Skip to content
Home » How to Blow Up a Pipeline (2023) Review

How to Blow Up a Pipeline (2023) Review

This is a review for the 2023 movie “How to Blow Up a Pipeline”. This is an very bold movie, with a lot to say about climate change politics. In this article, we will discuss the messaging of this film and whether or not it works as a movie.

What is How to Blow Up a Pipeline about?

Different means radicalize eight young people into eco-terrorism, with some having lost family members to climate change. Others oppose oil pipelines on their land. They’re all losing faith in classic means of non-violent protest and are seeking other methods. Together in Texas, they devise a plan to blow up a pipeline, but complications arise when things blow up, people get injured, and unexpected guests arrive.

The movie raises some interesting questions regarding direct action in climate politics. The characters, themselves, discuss whether or not they are terrorists. Some politicians are arguing that Just Stop Oil should be classed as terrorists, simply for blocking roads – so it’s no doubt what the right-wing media and politicians would make of them. But would they really be terrorists? There’s almost no doubt that what they’re doing would help the planet and save lives. They acknowledge that there would be collateral damage from oil prices impacting poor people. The question remains whether acknowledging it makes them better or worse for continuing. One striking line was, “Oil companies decide who lives or dies every day, why can’t we?” It highlights how the only difference between the oil companies and these protesters is the government’s support.

Is How to Blow Up a Pipeline for or against direct action?

The movie, based on a non-fiction book with the same title, explicitly calls for direct action and leaves no doubt that it supports it. It portrays the driving reasons behind people’s inclination towards direct action and depicts the despair and hopelessness that young people feel towards climate change, as well as the current ineffectiveness of climate organizations. It’s clear that the media will never support so many climate organizations who are chasing the golden goose of favourable optics.

The movie honestly portrays the consequences of direct action, including the collateral damage aspect I mentioned earlier. It also touches on the consequences to the perpetrators, in a chilling credits sequence. Some characters don’t end up in a good place, and even those who do are left feeling anxious.

It’s uncommon to witness a movie taking a firm stance on this topic, as we would typically expect to see some questioning of whether the actions are going too far. However, this movie purposely avoids that and instead seeks to evoke sympathy for the cast and unwavering support for their actions. It firmly advocates for direct action.

How to Blow Up a Pipeline Review

While we’ve discussed the film’s politics, it’s worth analyzing its merits as a movie. Despite being around 100 minutes long, it feels like a quick watch due to its tense and fast-paced nature. The movie maintains a sense of unease throughout, leaving the audience anticipating when things will go wrong – and they often do. It refrains from explaining what’s at stake in detail, avoiding hand-holding the audience. Instead, the gravity of the actors’ performances conveys everything the viewer needs to know.

The film boasts a large cast of eight team members, with each recruited in a heist-style “getting the crew together” series of flashbacks. Despite this, the movie successfully distinguishes each character, evoking empathy for them all. Notably, Michael (Forrest Goodluck) delivers an outstanding performance.

The Ending

Without giving away any spoilers, the tension never lets up, even in the final act of the movie. It contains many unexpected twists and turns, leading to questions about the motives of some of the characters. Just as you feel like you understand where things are going, the floor comes out from beneath you. The movie concludes with a powerful monologue that delves into the central question: was this violence or self-defence?

Who should see this movie?

This movie is deeply political and so, in the politically divisive world that we live in, you’ll probably know whether or not you’ll enjoy this movie. Nevertheless, I recommend giving it a watch, regardless of your politics. It may persuade you to change your view on protestors using direct action, but even if it doesn’t, the movie is a powerful and intense experience that will leave you wondering, “how did this get made?”

Initially, I was concerned that the movie might be pretentious and difficult to understand. However, that is far from the case. It is a highly enjoyable movie that is accessible to all, as long as they can move past the title and subject matter.

This was a review for the 2023 movie “How to Blow Up a Pipeline”. Was this movie “the bomb” or did it go down like a lead balloon? Let us know in the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *