Lock Picking in Movies: Separating Fact From Fiction

Movie fans should be aware that not everything they see on the big screen is entirely accurate and this includes the portrayal of lock picking. In movies, characters often pick locks quickly and with very little effort, granting them access to some of the most secure places in the world within mere seconds. However, the reality of lock-picking differs significantly from what we see in films. While it is good entertainment to witness a character effortlessly picking a lock with a hairpin or credit card, the actual process is far from simple. To clear up these misconceptions, we asked the expert locksmiths at locksmithspros.org to uncover the truth behind lock picking. In this article, we have compiled all of this important information, and are now ready to separate fact from fiction.

How Much Time Is Needed to Open a Lock Without a Key?

Lock picking is often depicted as a swift and effortless task, accomplished within a matter of seconds. This portrayal is driven by the need to maintain a fast-paced momentum to keep the audience engaged. However, the reality of lock picking is far from simple. It is a complex skill that demands precision, patience and a deep understanding of lock mechanisms.

Skilled locksmiths dedicate considerable time and effort to the task of picking locks without a key. They meticulously work with the various components of a lock, employing their expertise and knowledge to achieve successful entry. The duration of this process depends on the intricacy of the lock itself. Some locks can be relatively straightforward to open, while others can be very challenging.

Tools Needed to Successfully Pick a Lock

Actors are often seen picking locks using a single slim metal pick or even resorting to extraordinary methods like liquid nitrogen and mattresses to open supposedly impenetrable safes, as seen in the movie Ant-Man. However, in the real world, professional locksmiths rely on a different set of tools and techniques. They don’t use liquid nitrogen or futuristic gadgets. Instead, they use a range of specialized tools specifically designed for different types of locks.

Professional locksmiths understand the importance of having the right tools for the job. These tools include tension wrenches, hook picks, rake picks, and diamond picks, among others. Each tool serves a specific purpose in manipulating different lock mechanisms. For example, tension wrenches apply pressure to the lock’s cylinder, mimicking the action of a key turning, while picks are used to manipulate the individual pins, levers, or tumblers inside the lock.

Can Anyone Pick a Lock with the Proper Tools?

Hollywood makes it seem like anyone can easily pick a lock with the right tools, even if they don’t have any experience. They show characters using everyday items or special kits to open locked doors or safes without any problems. But in reality, it’s not that simple at all! Picking a lock requires a lot of knowledge, skill, and training. Professional locksmiths spend a long time learning about different types of locks and how to use the right tools correctly. It’s not something you can learn quickly, and it’s not safe to try unless you really understand how locks and keys work.

Realistic Depictions of Lock Picking in Movies

Not all movies show opening locked doors or safes in an unrealistic way. In some movies like Sherlock Holmes, the character uses two metal pieces to try and unlock the door. However, it takes some struggling, and eventually, they end up kicking down the door. While this may not be the best method to open a door, at least it shows some realism. In The Italian Job movie from 2003, Charlize Theron’s character tries to open a safe by using a power drill to break the lock. But she faces problems and ends up figuring out the combination with the help of her teammates. Many people online have praised this portrayal because it shows the trial-and-error process of opening a safe, which is often how it happens in real life (depending on the specific safe).

Final Thoughts

You don’t need to be a professional locksmith to understand that some lock-picking scenes in Hollywood movies are exaggerated solely for dramatic purposes. In movies, actors can quickly and accurately pick locks, but in real life, it takes a lot of patience, skill, and knowledge. Movies make the process seem easy while overlooking the precision and experience needed. So if you see a character effortlessly picking a lock in a movie, remember that in real life it’s more effective to call a professional locksmith.