Arsene Lupin was a classic literary character in French fiction, described as a gentleman wearing a top hat and monocle, who was also a smooth and crafty thief. His exploits were described in a series of books written by Maurice Leblanc back in 1905, and since then, he would also be featured in various other media, like films, television, stage plays and comic books.
This classic character had been resurrected in this new limited series on Netflix.
Teenager Assane Diop (Mamadou Haidara) was a big fan of Arsene Lupin even since his father Babakar (Fargass Assande) introduced the books to him. One day, his father was accused by his employer, the millionaire Hubert Pellegrini (Herve Pierre), of stealing a valuable necklace of diamonds. Forced to sign a confession, Babakar then committed suicide by hanging in his prison cell.
Twenty-five years later, this very same necklace had been recovered by the Pellegrinis, and it was up for auction at the Louvre. Still inspired by the Lupin books, Assane (Omar Sy), now a young man with multiple physical, mental and technical skills, set into motion an elaborate plan to steal the necklace and finally be able to exact his revenge on the people responsible for his father's death, while driving the police crazy in the process.
Omar Sy's portrayal of Assane was charismatic and winsome, very fitting as he embodied his personal idol Arsene Lupin. Sy had good chemistry with Ludivine Sagnier (as his ex-partner Claire) and Etan Simon (as his son Raoul), the angle which gave this series its heart. Of course, you'd have to suspend your disbelief that a 6-foot-3 hulk like Sy can easily slip through any form of security without being seen or that he could be a master of disguise, but that is part of this series' charm.
This first season only had 5 episodes of only about 40 minutes each, so this was a quick and easy binge. With how the Episode 1 set up the heist at the Louvre, one will really be drawn into the incredible story, especially as the revenge angle eventually came into fore. The momentum really got going in Episode 3 featuring corrupt policeman Dumont (Vincent Garanger) and Episode 4 featuring crusading journalist Fabienne Beriot (Anne Benoit). Even if Episode 5 turned out to be a rather predictable cliffhanger, it set up for a Season 2 we are eagerly waiting for.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."