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The Locksmith

This modest and competent neo-noir seems to have no urgent reason for being, except perhaps to inject sentimental notions of redemption into the book of neo-noir conventions. Directed by Nicolas Harvard from a script by John Glosser, Ben Kabialis, Chris LaMont, and Joe Russo—working from a story by Blair Kroeber, yet!—the movie opens with a botched robbery. One in which a smarmy corrupt cop named Zwick intercepts the loot while killing one of the robbers. 

These are very soulful robbers, apparently. Just trying to get a nest egg going for their families. Kevin, the one who gets killed, has a young daughter named April. Miller Graham, the title locksmith, has a fiancée and a young daughter. Having kept his mouth shut about the sleazy Zwick (who’s played with standard-issue corrupt-cop assurance by Jeffrey Nordling), Miller gets to spend ten years in prison. 

Upon release, Ryan Phillippe, who plays the character, looks pretty beat down. But he’s got his old friend Frank, who runs a legit locksmithing concern, to set him up with a job. Former fiancée Beth (Kate Bosworth), who used to wait tables at a diner, is now a police detective. Okay. Soon to be retiring as her boss is the hated Zwick. Also: young April has grown up! And she’s been ensnared into a life of prostitution and abuse by a local real estate magnate/sex trafficker (Charlie Weber). Using Miller’s sense of guilt as a psychological lever, April demands he knock over a local gambling party run by her boss so she can take the loot and start a new life. 

Miller is a complete pushover, which is maybe the most noteworthy thing about his character. Even though he’s being hassled anew by Spitz, he agrees to do the job knowing the corrupt cop does the security for the home casino. 

In the meantime, back at the police station, soon-to-retire Zwick is making what he thinks are chess moves with his cops, one of which is giving the wary Beth a promotion to vice. Looking into cold prostitution cases, Beth remarks a downturn in arrests to one of her on-the-take colleagues. “It’s a small town,” he shrugs.

Well, yes, the unnamed burg in this movie sure is a small town. The web of associations drawn here is so relentlessly obvious and tight that one marvels at the fact it took four whole screenwriters to come up with it. 

If “The Locksmith” offers anything new, it’s in neutering the genre. There’s a femme fatale in all this, but seduction is not her specialty or a part of her scheme. Phillippe’s character is never motivated by anything resembling amour fou or even lust; he’s solely interested in reconstructing the family he lost. Which means, in part, teaching his now 12-year-old daughter Lindsay (played by Madeleine Guilbot, and, yes, the character’s full name IS Lindsay Graham) how to pick locks. Cute. And, by Chekhov, perhaps even useful in the climactic scene! A scene incidentally, whose message can be read as taking the position that you ought never send a man in to do a woman’s job. So that’s different, yes. If only the filmmakers had put it across with a little more enthusiasm.

Now playing in theaters and available on VOD. 

Glenn Kenny

Glenn Kenny was the chief film critic of Premiere magazine for almost half of its existence. He has written for a host of other publications and resides in Brooklyn. Read his answers to our Movie Love Questionnaire here.

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Film Credits

The Locksmith movie poster

The Locksmith (2023)

Rated NR

91 minutes


Ryan Phillippe as Miller

Kate Bosworth as Beth

Ving Rhames as Frank

Jeffrey Nordling as Ian Zwick

Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden as April Reyes

Madeleine Guilbot as Lindsay Graham

Charlie Weber as Garrett Field


Writer (original story by)





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