In 1905, French writer Maurice Leblanc created a character named Arsène Lupin, who embodies one of my favorite archetypes in all of storytelling: the gentleman thief. Since his creation, the suave, crafty Lupin has appeared in several short stories, books, comics, and movies over the years, and even inspired a grandson character, Lupin III, who was the subject of acclaimed animation director Hayao Miyazaki’s feature directorial debut and, more recently, a new CG animated film called Lupin III The First.
Now Lupin will live to outwit his enemies once again, thanks to a new Netflix series from Now You See Me and Transporter 2 director Louis Leterrier. Check out the full trailer for the show below, but be warned: you’re about to see some truly awful dubbing.
That dubbing is so off-putting and unnatural that it makes me question how anyone would be willing to watch any piece of content with dubbing turned on instead of being engaged enough to simply read the subtitles as the show plays out. (Naturally, my bafflement does not apply to people with terrible vision or with any other legitimate reason why this wouldn’t make sense for them.)
But aside from the distracting voice work here, this show actually looks like it could be really fun. I like the modern setting, and how it’s not actually about Lupin, but instead about a guy who is inspired by the character (who evidently exists in literary form in this universe). Omar Sy (The Intouchables, Jurassic World, X-Men: Days of Future Past) plays the protagonist, a different gentleman thief named Assane Diop who takes the Lupin legacy and runs with it. Here is the official description for the series:
As a teenager, Assane Diop’s life was turned upside down when his father died after being accused of a crime he didn’t commit. 25 years later, Assane will use “Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Burglar” as his inspiration to avenge his father.
Leterrier, who also directed Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk, will be behind the camera for at least one episode as a director on this show. This will be his second recent series for Netflix, after he was part of the creative team that brought the puppet-centric The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance to the streaming service.
I give Miyazaki’s Lupin III film, The Castle of Cagliostro, my highest recommendation – even for people who don’t traditionally like anime. 1932’s Arsène Lupin, which starred John and Lionel Barrymore, doesn’t have the same panache, but may still be worth a watch if you’d like to see what the Lupin character is like in live action.
Lupin hits Netflix on January 8, 2021.