It is very tricky business to make a series like Lupin, as whatever conflicts, plot points, twists and turns, and gimmicks you decide to show have already been showcased by other films or series in all probability. So the task in a series like Lupin is to maintain authenticity, not get too driven by the inspirations, and decide what kind of tone you want to have, how you want the characters to look and feel, and what kind of aftertaste you want to leave your audience with. We can say that there are two styles of execution that a maker can decide to have, i.e., they can decide to keep things as realistic as possible in their approach or exaggerate things a little bit, make the protagonist an infallible hero who is always a step ahead of others, and try to mesmerize the viewers by showing something that they knew was impossible to achieve in real life, but they still let go of the logic and have a blast of a time witnessing that on their screens.
Lupin, created by George Kay and inspired by the works of Maurice Leblanc, gravitates towards the second kind of execution we talked about and is able to pull it off to quite some extent. It is quite similar in its tonality to the Spanish series Money Heist, which also had a stylised narrative, and we all witnessed the worldwide rage it created. As a viewer who has seen a lot of well-made heist films and series, a lot of things didn’t make sense to me in Money Heist, and it seemed too unreal, overblown, and needless a lot of times. But the conviction, the flair, and those relatable emotions that bring a tear to your eyes and entertain you to the point that you are ready to let go of the fallacies of the narrative are the things that matter in the end. And more than anything else, a character like El Professor or Assane Diop, if done right, makes a viewer traverse into that fantasy land where anything is possible.
The character of Assane Diop was a thief, but the writers gave him a Robin Hood-ish aura and made the audience believe that even if he commits a crime, his intentions were pure, as he made sure that the underprivileged always get uplifted through his acts. This is the exact concoction you use to create an anti-hero that is often loved more than an all-out positive character. People like it when they see that somebody is a victim of the circumstances, and they are not suppressed by the system but are making sure that they bend the rules, defy the odds, and gain an advantage.
It had all started for Assane Diop when he realized in Lupin Season 1 that his father had been framed by a rich and influential man named Hubert Pellegrini and that he had not committed the crime he was being accused of. Assane made it his mission in life to expose this corrupt man and honor the death of his father. He took a lot of inspiration from the character of Arsene Lupin, and he almost worshiped him as if he were a real-life figure and not just a character created by Maurice Leblanc. Assane had honed his skills from a very young age, and his impressive sleight of hand and fearless and audacious attitude helped him fulfill his goals. This question often comes up in every franchise: In which direction would the makers take the narrative from a point where the characters have gotten a closure of sorts and found a solution to their ongoing problems? This is where a lot of series end up getting botched up because writers fail to create that magic that they had created in the earlier seasons, and it all starts looking a bit repetitive and mundane.
Lupin season 3 overcomes this obstacle, and it somehow manages to create a storyline, independent of past conflicts, that keeps you hooked. If you view Lupin season 3 independently, the creators have been able to bring forth an engaging narrative, though we won’t deny that there are certain subplots that are a bit underwhelming. Another thing that has to be kept in check when you are making a story like Lupin is the extent to which you want to exaggerate things. There is a very thin line between over-the-top executions and making something look absurd. We won’t deny that there were a few moments in Lupin season 3 where we did feel that the makers had stretched the limit a bit too much, but then the series quickly made up for it and did not let that aftertaste of absurdity linger for a very long time. The pace is another aspect from which the series greatly benefits.
The third part has 7 episodes, and we think it was the best possible decision that the makers could take, considering that had they tried to compulsively reach that 8–10 episode mark, the entire thing would have become tedious and dull. We liked the fact that writers have shown that Assane was so inspired by the character of Arsene Lupin from Leblanc’s novel and how he incorporated those little details into his schemes and kept leaving clues for someone who was looking closely.
The actors perform according to the brief given to them, and they do a satisfactory job of it. Omar Sy is brilliant in the role of Assane Diop, and he does the heavy lifting. When we talk about Omar Sy, we have to talk about how he cloaked his identity through the different looks he created. A special shout-out has to be given to the make-up department for doing a stupendous job. Apart from the protagonist, Ludivine Sagnier as Assane’s partner Claire, Soufiane Guerrab in the role of a police officer, Youssef Guedira, who is also an Arsene Lupin geek, and Antoine Gouy as the ever-dependable Benjamin have given standout performances. The casting, we would like to say here, is spot on, and it amazes us how the younger versions of the characters are spitting images of them.
Overall, Lupin Part 3 is an entertaining watch, though we won’t deny that the narrative has its flaws, and at times, it tries very hard to establish that Assane Diop has the ability to commit the most perfect crimes ever. The anti-capitalist sentiment is something that the writers would want to harp upon in the subsequent seasons because it not only elevates the entire narrative but also gives an altruistic angle to the franchise, which in itself has a lot of potential. The makers did graze through it in Lupin season 3, but we think that the storyline would benefit a lot if they decided to dig deeper. We would like to see Assane Diop become a sort of character who started his journey due to personal reasons but now has a cause that is larger than life, and he wants to keep fighting this war against oppression and institutionalized corruption until each and every member of society is treated fairly.