“How to Blow Up a Pipeline” is directed by Daniel Goldhaber and stars Ariela Barer (Runaways, Atypical), Kristine Froseth (Looking for Alaska, The Society), Lukas Gage (The White Lotus, Euphoria), Forrest Goodluck (The Republic of Sarah, The Revenant), Sasha Lane (Utopia, Loki), Jayme Lawson (Farewell Amor, The Batman), Marcus Scribner (Black-ish, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power), Jake Weary (Animal Kingdom, Fred: The Movie), and Irene Bedard (Pocahontas, The Mist). This film centers around several environmental activists as they band together to, as the title suggests, blow up a pipeline.
Some of you reading this review may be hearing about this movie for the first time today. I ended up watching this movie for a few reasons. First, the trailer was really good. It had a certain flair to it that individualized the project. Second, to some degree, I care about the environment. I cannot pretend I am perfect, but I try to do my part when it comes to preserving it. Third, the release period seemed limited. It was playing at select theaters with minimal times available. In fact I did a search for showtimes in my area, and found out “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” currently is not playing anywhere near me. It is available to watch at home, but still. I am glad I saw this movie when I did. In a time where I recognize climate change, the world being on fire, and needing to take care of my surroundings more than ever, I thought this movie could be, at least, an important watch. Now that I have seen it, would I recommend it?
After some thought, I would say that question requires an extended debate.
It has been a couple weeks since I watched “How to Blow Up a Pipeline.” I wish I could have gotten this review out earlier but between other movie reviews being in the… You know, pipeline… And other things in life getting in the way, I have waited until now to talk about it. That said, I do not remember everything I saw in this movie. This is a simple movie. This is also on the shorter side. But if I were asked to give any of the characters’ names or their backstories, I would need to do a Google search. This also speaks to something that stood out to me in the movie as I watched it. The best thing about “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” is the chemistry between everyone in the ensemble. While I do not think the individual characters are that memorable, they come off as a well-oiled machine (sorry) when they work together.
To all of the environmentalists out there, I would like to make it clear that I did not necessarily enjoy “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” because of what it says about how we treat our planet. Instead, if I were to give a surface level summary of my experience, I enjoyed the movie because of the characters and how this film’s story effectively highlights the characters’ issues. The shared motivation of the main characters made me ask some perhaps much needed questions. I will get to those later. Yes, the movie heavily involves an oil pipeline, which as a singular concept, is a controversial topic regarding the future of this planet. But as the movie goes on, we see how it affects ordinary people. Granted, this is a work of fiction. But as I watched the movie, it felt raw. I not only felt connected with the main ensemble that were trying to blow up the pipeline, but the supporting characters that have to deal with the pipeline’s effects.
If I did not make myself clear already, I am not a climate change denier. I try to recycle as much as possible. I want good public transportation and I try to utilize it as much as I can. I own a car, but when I bought it, I avoided leaning towards an SUV or truck because of their effects on the environment. Naturally, if this movie was designed to change my mind on the oil industry or my views on environmental preservation, it will not. If anything, one can argue that I might be predisposed to this movie because of my views. But I think this is an important film, even if it is not my favorite I have seen recently. I think as we transition ourselves and evolve, this is something I will think about on one occasion or another. I am glad this movie this movie was made, not just because I was entertained with the journey the characters go through, but why said journey was taking place.
I can see certain people watching this movie and not siding with these characters. That said, movies like this go to show that everyone believes they are the hero of their own story. I have seen movies where I think the protagonist is a buffoon, I do not know how I could ever side with them. Specifically, Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza.” But part of that has to do with my values and when this character is presented to be as moronic as he is, not once did I get a sense that this moron was charismatic or the least bit justified for his behavior. “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” is a hard sell based on its low budget and not exactly star-studded cast, although they have been in some popular television programs. Another season it is a hard sell is because it picks a side, not to mention a side that is likely to trigger some people. It did not trigger me, but I am not everyone else.
The movie begs to justify destroying things for the sake of sending a message. That is a tough question that I honestly do not know how to answer. Because history has shown that destruction of property or similar acts can be effective in sending a message and bringing change. Look at the Boston Tea Party. But is it worth the trouble? Is it worth the consequences? Not only do we see the oil pipeline destruction motivation play out, but this same message through destruction is being delivered from the very first scene. The first minute of the movie features one of the main characters slashing the tire of a gas guzzler car, while also posting a flyer as to why they did it. That is something that I also have mixed feelings on. It is definitely less harmful in more ways than one, but I do not know if the person on the receiving end is either going to change their mind or react fondly. Sure, destroying things can bring attention. But how far do you go to support a point? It is a question worth asking, but it is hard to say if it is worth answering.
“How to Blow Up a Pipeline” is something I probably would not have watched unless I was doing Scene Before. That said, I do not have any regrets. As a character story, this is captivating. As a thriller, it is intriguing. As an overall movie, it was worth the watch. Is this movie going to open anyone’s minds? It is a possibility. Because even though it is a work of fiction, it tends to base itself within the confines of an issue that feels real. And it is an issue that is likely to only become heavier depending on where we go as a society. The film is not playing in many theaters right now, including the ones near me. And while I cannot give “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” a glowing recommendation, I can say it is superior to many of the movies I have reviewed in recent months, especially the more popular titles everyone is giving their money to.
In the end, “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” was thought-provoking. It was a bit of a surprise because part of me did not know what to expect going in. This is not a project I would watch at home on a Friday night. But it is also a project that I am glad I saw this one time on a Friday night where I had nothing else going on. If you are looking to be entertained, you might get that out of this movie. But I left the film feeling more invested in questioning the deeper meaning behind the characters’ actions more than anything else. Despite the film not being my favorite of the year, I hope it is one that is brought up in conversations throughout the years to come. I am going to give “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” a 7/10.
“How to Blow Up a Pipeline” is now playing in select theatres and is available to buy or rent on digital services.
Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I am going to have reviews for “Sisu” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.” Stay tuned! Also, for those of you who have followed me for some time, I want to address the status of my “Super Mario Bros.” 1993 review. I am working on it. Unfortunately, due to other movies coming out and time constraints, I have no official date as to when the review will be released. Maybe when the 2023 adaptation releases physically. I do not know. If I have an update, I will give one. But for now, that review is being put on hold. Hope you understand. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “How to Blow Up a Pipeline?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie with an ecocentric message that you enjoyed? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!