It’s hard to fault the craft behind this live action adaptation of iconic Japanese gentleman thief; it is nothing if not competent. It looks very professional, with a sleek, slickly colour-graded aesthetic that resembles an up-scale watch or automobile advertisement. The action scenes – of which there more than a few – are crisply edited with a meaty sound design. The actors wear debonair costumes without a single hair out of place.
Oh, the plot? Right, the plot. Lupin the 3rd takes a leaf from American action films of a decade ago – Batman Begins, Casino Royale, etc – by staging the origin tale of Mr Lupin III (played here by Shun Oguri) in a classic caper construct – jewel theft, double-crossings and the like. On the face of it, going the origin route makes sense – if you’re going to jump from animation to live action, why not get the audience up to speed? – but is based in a fundamental misunderstanding of Lupin’s appeal.
The story doesn’t matter – not really – and the characters are so archetypal that a fifteen minute prologue would’ve sufficed. What distinguishes Lupin is his irrepressible smarm, his infectious confidence, his shit-eating grin – and that sense of personality is sadly lacking here.