Movie Review: Ryan Phillippe finds trouble before and after prison as “The Locksmith”

Not every actor in his position, once more famous than he is now and a long time between hit films or must-see series, gets the parts that Ryan Phillippe does.

Even the B-movies have possibilities, and if not high-mindedness, at least the nobility of being sturdy installments in time-honored genres. Phillippe seems to get that, and rarely disappoints in such outings, no matter how malnourished some of them seem.

As “The Locksmith” he’s a career criminal whose partner is murdered on a safecracking job by the dirty cop who set it up. The film is about how this bad-man-who-was-wronged carries himself and what he gets mixed-up in when he gets out ten years later.

There are lapses in logic that far-too-often let it down. But with a good cast and an eminently hissable villain (Jeff Nordling), it gets the job done, and Phillippe has another solid, value-added turn on his resume.

He plays Miller Graham, a small-time crook in a small city in the desert southwest. We meet him just as that burglary arranged by Det. Zwick (Nordling) goes south and Zwick covers his ass by killing Graham’s partner.

There’re no on-the-scene heroics as this goes down. Graham has a wife and baby girl. His partner had a kid sister. There’s nothing for it but to keep his mouth shut, take the arrest and do his time.

Ten years later, he tries to reconcile with his ex (Kate Bosworth) and get to know his kid (Madeleine Guilbot). His old partner and mentor Frank (Ving Rhames) gives him “handy man” work as a locksmith’s assistant, so “staying clean” is within reach.

The dirty cop may be retiring, but his makes sure his corrupt unit roughs Graham up for old time’s sake. And the sister (Gabriela Quezada) of Grahams late partner-in-crime has grown up to have problems of her own, and demands his help.

His past won’t let him go.

Some actions our hero takes seem illogical, and some situations have him as the last guy in the room who gets a clue about what’s really going on.

When a bad guy says “Kill ANYbody!” to a subordinate, we logically expect that to be carried out, not leaving this or that loose end to fend for himself or herself and plot the criminals’ undoing.

But Nordling makes a terrific heavy, Rhames oozes credibility as the wizened small-time crook turned small business owner, Bosworth holds her own and Phillippe hits just the right notes — crooked to the core, wary of everybody except for “family,” naive enough to think his instincts are enough.

“The Locksmith’s” not bad, unless you’re inclined to — you know — pick at it.

Rating: unrated, violence, profanity

Cast: Ryan Phillippe, Kate Bosworth, Ving Rhames, Jeff Nordling, Gabriela Quezada, Madeleine Guilbot, Charlie Webber and Tom Wright.

Credits: Nicolas Harvard, scripted by John Glosser and Ben Kabialis. A Screen Media release.

Running time: 1:32

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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