The Netflix French original series Lupin proved to be an unexpected hit when it debuted earlier this year, purportedly racking up views in 70 million households in its first month. And there’s good news for those frustrated by part 1’s cliffhanger ending: we’ll soon find out what happens next, as Netflix just dropped a full trailer and release date for part 2 of the saga. Alas, the trailer is dubbed in English—quelle horreur!—which means we miss out on star Omar Sy’s dulcet tones. (Dear Netflix: it’s OK to have subtitled trailers for your foreign fare. In fact, it’s far, far preferable to bad dubbing.)
(Some spoilers for part 1 below.)
As I’ve written previously, Arsène Lupin is the creation of Maurice Leblanc, who based the character partly on a French burglar/anarchist. Relentlessly pursued by a detective named Ganimard, Lupin is captured stealing a woman’s jewels while on board a ship. Although he is imprisoned, he ultimately escapes before standing trial and goes on to pull off many other colorful heists.
The Netflix series is the creation of Louis Leterrier, who directed the 2013 heist thriller Now You See Me, in which a band of magicians pulls off ingenious robberies. So it’s easy to see why he would be drawn to this project.
We meet the Senegal-born Assane Diop (Sy) while he’s working as a janitor at the Louvre, surrounded by artwork worth millions. Currently on exhibit is a jeweled necklace that once belonged to Marie Antoinette, in advance of a public auction to sell the piece to the highest bidder. It was this recently recovered necklace that his father, Babakar (Fargass Assandé), was falsely accused by wealthy financier Hubert Pellegrini (Hervé Pierre) of stealing. Assane is out for revenge for his father’s subsequent suicide. After duping local gang members into pulling a decoy heist, Diop disguises himself as a wealthy potential buyer and crashes the auction—and ultimately walks away with the necklace.
That’s just the beginning of the story, as we learn more about Assane’s history—including his relationship with childhood sweetheart Claire (Ludivine Sagnier), the mother of his son—and why he has modeled his schemes on the exploits of Arsène Lupin. Elements drawn from various Lupin stories are cleverly woven throughout the series, most obviously “The Queen’s Necklace”—the title of the pilot episode, which incorporates several plot elements of the original story and also provides the inspiration for the name of Assane and Claire’s son: Raoul (Etan Simon). Captain Romain Laugier (Vincent Londez) and another detective, Youssef Guedira (Soufiane Guerrab), are part of the team investigating the Louvre heist, and both share traits with Ganimard.
Count me among those who thoroughly enjoyed part 1. “The series is briskly paced without sacrificing character development, capturing the essence of each character in deft strokes. The cast delivers strong performances across the board,” I wrote in my review earlier this year. “But it’s Sy’s Assane who anchors the series as the quintessential gentleman thief for the 21st century.” But I was also a fan of the original novels and short stories and was a little surprised at the huge success Lupin enjoyed around the world. And I wasn’t the only one. A bewildered French journalist interviewed me about why I thought audiences were responding so enthusiastically—while making it very clear he did not care for the show at all.
It’s partly because Netflix, in particular, has a gift for ferreting out solid foreign films and TV series likely to appeal to American tastes. And Lupin has just the right amount of universal appeal for audiences craving fresh fare while stuck at home during a global pandemic. In fact, it was a hit in households all around the world, including Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, and South Africa.
The show even reached No. 1 in France, so that French journalist was in the minority. Who doesn’t love the dashing exploits of a gentleman thief? “This level of response is totally beyond me,” Sy told Deadline Hollywood earlier this year. “It’s great to see in Brazil or in France they loved Lupin for the same reason. There’s something universal, and that’s something I always try to achieve.”
The only bad thing about Lupin part 1 was that, at only five episodes, it was too short and ended on the mother of all cliffhangers, with Pellegrini’s henchmen kidnapping Assane’s son in retaliation for the theft of the diamond necklace and Assane’s attempt to make Pellegrini’s longstanding corruption public. Per the official part 2 premise: “Assane’s quest for revenge against Hubert Pellegrini has torn his family to pieces. With his back to the wall, he now has to think of a new plan, even if it means putting himself in danger.”
The trailer opens right where part 1 left off, with Assane’s son bound and gagged in a chair and Assane vowing revenge against Pellegrini. That’s going to be particularly difficult, since Pellegrini has used his media contacts to frame Assane for a crime he didn’t commit, and Assane is now the most wanted man in France. So Assane and his loyal ally, jeweler Benjamin Ferel (Antoine Gouy), decide to disappear for a bit to concoct a new plan while in hiding. Meanwhile, Pellegrini is setting a trap for our gentleman thief: a symphony performance in honor of Arsène Lupin. We get plenty of gorgeous shots of Paris, a car chase, and what looks like an epic showdown in the famous catacombs of Paris.
Lupin part 2 debuts on Netflix on June 11, 2021. Netflix has already renewed the series for a part 3, so we’ll be getting lots more of Assane’s dashing exploits in the future. And it’s the perfect time to binge all five episodes of part 1 if you haven’t already seen them.
Listing image by YouTube/Netflix