Picking Apart Movie Lock Picking

No matter what you do for a living, you’ve probably seen your job depicted on the silver screen. And we’re willing to bet you’ve been frustrated by it. sitting there with your popcorn and hot dog, pointing out how inaccurate X, Y or Z is. Well, you’re not alone, because everyone does it! Even us, with locks. Lock picking is something you can find in a wide range of furs, and it ranges from fairly accurate to ion my god why did they do that, it’s not even close to true!’. It’s not enough to ruin a film, but it can be a little annoying to watch! We’ve had a few people now mention they’d like to know our thoughts on theatrical lockpicking, so today, we’re going to share them with you.


Marvel films taking over the cinematic universe, it’s no surprise that there’s a heist movie in there. In Ant-Man, Paul Rudd tries to break into a safe using all sorts of tricks. While the make of the safe is fake, it looks to be a very early Diebold vault door. That’s a very serious door! After trying to get inside using waitresses, lifted fingerprints and all sorts, he finally gets inside by pouring water into the door pin and freezing it. The idea is that the water will expand and crack the door open. The thing is, this type of vault has a thin back panned on the door that’s just a sheet of metal. So even if he froze the water and it expanded, it would blow that back panel off, not the door itself. Cool? Yes. Realistic? Nope.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Spy movies don’t get more classic than this 1969 staple. Full to the brim with super-cool spy gadgets, we expected it to be at least a little accurate, and we weren’t disappointed. At one point our main character is called on to open a safe, and he pulls out a gadget to get the job done. This is a very real device called an auto dialler, which you hook up and it runs through a dialling sequence. He then picks up a paper and waits. Since auto diallers can take between 10 and 30 hours to open a safe, it’s very realistic and gets a big thumbs up from us!

The Ocean’s Franchise

Speaking of heist films, we couldn’t do this rundown without mentioning the Ocean’s Franchise. We’ve put them all together for speed since they all follow the same formula and direction. Ocean’s films feature their fair share of luck picking to pull off their increasingly ambitious heist plans. But you never really see them break out the lock-picking kit. Instead of using real tools, they use a range of fantastical technology and tools to get the job done. And 9 times out of 10, they would have been better off with the lock picks!

King of Thieves

This film came out in 2018 and it’s the real story of a very real robbery that was committed at 88-90 Hatton Garden by a team of ex-gangsters. They cored the vault, breached it, and cleared out over 70 boxes of diamonds from inside. It’s widely known as the most daring heist in British history, and the film adaptation is fantastic. They used the same tools and techniques as the real heist – it could almost be called a full re-enactment! This one is a solid 10/10.

Sherlock Holmes

This one gets a mention that’s a bit tongue-in-cheek. In this film, Holmes is going for the much easier target of a door, and as the film is set in the 1800s, we see him break out an old-school set of picks and a vintage locksmith kit. so far, so accurate. What he does next is designed to poke fun at every other movie that sees people using lockpicks. He sticks two pieces of metal into the lock and Wiggles them around. For most of film history, this is all it takes to pick a lock- and while Holmes is struggling to get his ‘Voila” mount, Watson gets fed up and kicked the door down. A light jibe at the ridiculous trope that lockpicking in films has become.

If you’d like to see a real master locksmith get into a door in minutes, we can help! Our expert locksmiths use the latest tools with years of experience to provide the best and most efficient service possible, every time. To find out more, just get in touch with the team today.