How to Blow Up a Pipeline
March 4th, 2023
MOVIE: HOW TO BLOW UP A PIPELINE
STARRING: ARIELA BARER, KRISTINE FROSETH, LUKAS GAGE, FORREST GOODLUCK, SASHA LANE, JAYME LAWSON, MARCUS SCRIBNER, JAKE WEARY
DIRECTED BY: DANIEL GOLDHABER
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
The narrative structure of How to Blow Up a Pipeline is how it hooks you. The story itself is exactly what the title says. This is about a group of people, each with a different life experience that is impacted by a major oil company, bonding them together to make an environmental statement. The format is broken up by the various characters, where we see how they got to this point, and their role in the act. Director Daniel Goldhaber is not interested in making it about destruction or protestors taking action. He’s allowing the story to be driven by characters and their experience. How to Blow Up a Pipeline is a thrilling and engaging film that is about to go off.
It is a group of eight younger adults. We meet the group gathering in the desert of Arizona. Xochitl (Ariela Barer) could be called the leader of the group, an environmentalist, who has reached her endpoint on getting the world to stop using fossil fuels. Her friends are Theo (Sasha Lane) and her girlfriend Alisha (Jayme Lawson), two people that go together in their support, and as Theo grows more passionate, so does Alisha. Dwayne (Jake Weary) is the muscle of the group, as an oil spill leaked toxins on his farm, and gave his wife cancer. Michael (Forrest Goodluck) is the bomb maker, a loner whose family was moved out when an oil factory bought all his family’s land. The other three are activists Logan (Lukas Gage), his girlfriend Rowan (Kristine Froseth), and the brains of the matter Shawn (Marcus Scribner). Each one of them has a purpose in the act and a story to go with how they got to this moment.
From the writing aspect, How to Blow Up a Pipeline is as real as it gets, with a collective cast that is recognizable, yet unique. Barer, Goldhaber, and Jordan Sjol bring it all to life within the human interactions, each one feeling like chapters, or mini-stage plays. Although the pacing is not always thrilling, the conversations are engaging, and even as the plot runs a bit long, each moment is pertinent to the final explosion. As the narrative builds to that climactic ending, we don’t just see the impact, but also the quick response that one must make after committing the act.
When audiences often crave original storytelling they can look no further. How to Blow Up a Pipeline is original and still compact within itself. It is a movie for a new generation and in a world where global warming is destroying the planet. It’s neither a promotion or condemnation for those that would commit acts of destruction. The screenplay and the performances allow the story to show the human side, to reveal that these are people who have been pushed to the brink, and only want change. Some ulterior motives are revealed by some characters. There’s conflict within commiting the act. And then everyone is on the same page for the task at hand.
How to Blow Up a Pipeline should be on early lists for the best screenplay of 2023. The excellent cast makes it hard to pick one individual standout, but Lane and Barer are captivating in their pursuit of environmental protection. Overall, it reminded me of Sidney Lumet’s work in Serpico or Dog Day Afternoon. There is a guerilla-style, a documentary look, with dust, and shadows surrounding faces. Goldhaber succeeds at keeping us wound up and delivers with a bang.
HOW TO BLOW UP A PIPELINE IS CURRENTLY PLAYING IN THEATERS.
Written by: Leo Brady