Editor's note: Spoiler alert on first episode.
In the first episode of Netflix’s French mystery thriller Lupin, Assane Diop (Omar Sy) has put together the heist of a lifetime. Assuming a fake identity as a rich businessman he “buys” the necklace he is stealing at an auction and is led to the vault in the Louvre to claim his prize. The whole thing is an elaborate plan to get his hands on the necklace and then disappear without a trace. The auctioneer opens the lockbox and Assane finally has his hands on the necklace that represents so much of his history.
The team he has enlisted to take part in the heist who are posing as museum security quickly turn on Asssane seeing the chance to cut out his stake in the prize, subduing him and the auctioneer. The two traitors make it out of the vault and find the getaway driver waiting in a Ferrari instead of something subtle and inconspicuous like he was supposed to find. The police immediately give chase and the Ferrari speeds through narrow and twisting Paris streets until the driver loses control of the powerful vehicle and crashes through the museum, heist failed.
Assane is questioned by the police who now have the necklace, fake identity still intact he is seen as the victim in all this. As he walks away the police captain stops him one last time to search his person finding only a pen. Assane finally leaves the vault with a confident smile. Everything was part of the plan.
Lupin is based on the stories of Arsène Lupin, an iconic French character created by Maurice Leblanc. Lupin is a gentleman thief and master of disguise who uses elaborate schemes to steal valuable items. Assane is influenced by Lupin and has become a gentlemen thief in his own right and is using his abilities to avenge his father who died in prison while being accused of stealing The Queen’s Necklace from a powerful family.
Assane’s father Babakar (Fargass Assandé) was a fan of Arsene Lupin and gifted his son the book that would influence his son’s crusade to clear his father’s name and find the truth of what happened. Assane’s quest to find the truth is a mystery that grows larger the more we find out about Assane’s history and his father’s past. Did his father steal the necklace or was he truly framed? The more we learn about Assane’s past and what went down with his father the more complicated and sinister the events that led him to become a thief seeking justice become, increasing the stakes for Assane and everyone close to him.
Omar Sy is the big reason why Lupin is as good as it is. Sy has a powerful presence. He is a big guy who moves with finesse, towering over most people he comes into contact with. He can take up an entire room’s attention then suddenly fade into the background. He can get your attention and charm you then he walks away only leaving a faint impression.
He plays Assane as someone who is always in control of the situation whether it be an elaborate auction heist or going to prison on purpose to get information — he knows what he is doing and everything has a purpose. He can play helpless and in over his head then suddenly flip a switch and surprise, he’s actually the French James Bond. Assane is a protagonist that you want to root for, and the charisma and coolness of Omar Sy is the main attraction.
On top of being a master thief, Assane has a son Raul (Etan Simon,) and an ex-wife (Ludivine Sagnier) who he still loves. Assane has to balance the life he has with his desire to find out the truth about his father and finally get his revenge. He is trying to be a good father by being present in his son’s life while holding on to the hope that he can work things out with his wife. Assane is playing a dangerous game with powerful people and he risks putting the life he has in danger to try and make sense of what happened in his past.
Lupin is a French show with English subtitles so you have to pay attention. You can’t fiddle with your phone while watching like most shows or you're likely to miss something. It helps that the show shot many of its scenes on location in Paris — including in the Louvre. Lupin has style and shows it off by putting Assane in impossible situations that only a world-class thief could escape.
Overall Lupin is simply fun. The heists and schemes that Assane pulls off every episode hit that sweet spot of suspense and wonder. The performance of Omar Sy is special and demands that you get invested in Assane and his escapades. Part One of Lupin is only five episodes, with Part Two coming this summer. Part One ends in a legit cliffhanger, so if you liked the show you can breathe easy knowing you won’t have to wait too long for the conclusion.
Lupin is available to stream on Netflix.