Review: Lupin


The recently released Netflix original series “Lupin” is an astounding tale of a Senegalese immigrant boy avenging the death of his father, and exposing the corruption of a rich family, through methods shared by that of gentleman burglar Arsène Lupin. The basis for the series is in France, the crux of Lupin’s tales of grandeur. The character of Assane Diop, played by Omar Sy, is a cunning, intelligent, and methodical man, who always has a master plan up his sleeve. 

And as the trailer suggests, there is an awful amount of thievery and trickery that comes in a package and wears a suit and tie.

The first episode definitely supported the quality of the trailer, and may have even surpassed it. We are introduced to the characters of Assane and his father Babakar, a servant to the rich Pellegrini family. Babakar and his son are tied together with their shared interest in the tales of Arsène Lupin, a book taken from the Pellegrini library.

The shocking twist of Babakar’s suicide, after being framed by Hubert Pellegrini, head of the household, for stealing a priceless necklace that belonged to the family, sends young Assane into a spiral of confusion and despair, yearning for justice for his wrongfully convicted father. The series is inspired by French author, Maurice Leblanc’s Arsène Lupin: Gentleman-Thief stories, who was a widely loved character in the 1900s.

Within the story we fast forward to an adult Assane, a fully fledged man with a master plan to prove his father’s innocence once and for all, and it starts with stealing back the necklace that his father allegedly stole. We see Assane’s plan unfold, and witness it’s similarities to the tales of Lupin, as the first heist will make you want to rewatch it over again to see if you missed any subtle details. 

It gave off an Ocean’s 11 sort of feeling except Assane is a one man show. Through carefully fitted details, and the smarts of a master thief, he gets away with the necklace completely unscathed. A true demonstration of a man playing the system with his own rules.

In the next few episodes, the cunning and skillful planning only continues as his plots and schemes bust him in and out of prison, kidnap a crooked cop, and successfully avoid being hunted down by police, a hired assassin, and a highly knowledgeable detective who is familiar with the stories of Arsène Lupin.

All of Assane’s plots are directly taken from the book that his father had given him as a boy, and adapted to the 2020 era. But the most impressive part about Assane’s schemes isn’t the grand scale of it all, it’s the small details that slip past your mind, and how important they were to the plot.

Although we see Assane as this elite thief and con artist, we see him as a family man, supporting his son Raoul and his baby mother for whom he cares a lot about. The juxtaposition of him caring about his family while hustling it out makes him a more genuine hero, instead of just a ridiculously intelligent vigilante. 

What also spoke volumes was the representation of immigrants in a story that normally doesn’t include people of color. It also shows how underrepresented minorities are within France, and the inclusion of a senegalese immigrant as a suave and cunning thief with a strong moral compass puts them in a good light. 

Likewise, the  implications of Babakar’s relationship with the Pellegrini family, is a political statement of how Senegalese immigrants are not treated as equals within the French government, and often overlooked. In addition, Assane’s sense of justice relates to the Black Lives Matter movement, as for the only thing he wants is pure justice for a man wrongfully convicted, like many other minorities within different countries.

Overall, the story of Assane Diop and the reimagined tales of Arsène Lupin will strike you as a viewer with overwhelming action and drama. A definite must watch!

— by Evan Espeut ’21