Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon MOVIES: How to Blow Up a Pipeline - Review

SpoilerTV - TV Spoilers

MOVIES: How to Blow Up a Pipeline - Review

Share on Reddit

One of the problems with most of the movies with any vague left-wing sentiment in Hollywood nowadays is that they’re all run by massive corporations and signed off by suits; so can’t say anything too provocatively further than left of centre; lending to a hollow feeling at times. Thankfully that’s not the case with Daniel Goldhaber’s How to Blow Up a Pipeline, a film that almost feels – when looking at the state of movies in today’s market, practically revolutionary. It does what it says on the tin: we follow a budding group of revolutionaries teaming up from different backgrounds dedicated to the cause. The film borrows from Tarantino in how it sets up, drawing from Reservoir Dogs to showcase the event in practice before showing how the characters got to where they are today: it pulls characters who are all believably played by their actors as real people: Ariela Barer, Forrest Goodluck, Sasha Lane, Lukas Gage, Jack Weary and more all look the part.

It's a film that would make a double feature with Kelly Reichardt’s terrific Night Moves. The film uses entertainment to make its cause known – it’s as thrilling as a heist film, as tense as a war movie: it might as well be one for its characters. It’s real and that feels like its biggest achievement, there’s no faux activism – this is the real thing. The relationships between these characters are drawn together in a human way that never backs down and we buy why these characters are or aren’t friends, there’s a chemistry between the couples, yet the group all has their own subdivisions of what they’re trying to accomplish and the end goal of their radical movement and what they’re trying to put on the line. I loved how the whole thing anchored around Ariela Barer’s performance as Xochitl, pretty much perfection – and Tehillah De Castro works wonders with the cinematography to give a side of Texas that’s not commonly seen. Couple that with Gavin Brivik’s score and you have a firecracker of a picture – a ticking time bomb in a literal sense; that may end up being a contender for one of the boldest of the year.

The film showcases the assembly of a paramilitary group and gives these characters important motivations that feel believable and not half-assed. There’s a lot of Reservoir Dogs in it, rendering it one of the best films since well, Reservoir Dogs, and I like the fact that the group feels disorganised and chaotic with each there for their own agenda – Forrest Goodluck’s Michael’s bomb specialist may be the closest the gang has to a getting things done guy, cold and efficient, and it’s his storyline that justifies the act the most – not that it needs to be – you get to see what Oil Companies have done to land occupied by Native Americans, whilst Oil Pollution has led to Sasha Lane’s Theo being diagnosed with a severe illness. None of these characters have anything to lose: it’s war – from the start, to the end – and How to Blow Up a Pipeline is a rallying cry.

Separate from your run of the mill heist movie by avoiding the fact that most of them seem to be about crime not working out for them – it pulls you in hook line and sinker. It’s such a rare perspective for a movie like this that it just feels incredibly welcoming – and you’re instantly in love. Drawing inspiration from the non-fiction book of a similar subject matter by Andreas Malm, the film paints a view that the climate extinction crisis isn’t just some fantasy dystopia backdrop to a science fiction film, it’s here, and How to Blow Up a Pipeline feels very much grounded in the here and now. It’s a direct callback to working class movies of its ilk with actors that look the part; there’s no Hollywood star masquerading as someone who wants to fight for a cause – whilst yes, these are actors, not stars, this film has them actually act, and you believe their fight.

The focus on Michael as the groups’ legendary ringleader from an underground solo tiktok movement gives the film much of its narrative edge; and Goodluck brings a sense of fierce commitment to the role where you’re never quite sure he’s going to go next. I really like Lane’s give-no-shits-we’re-all-going-to-die energy that the actor has been bringing to the table in most of her performances – excellent in American Honey, on par here, that freedom of youthful rebellion that comes with choice and a good agent. It’s a direct contrast to Logan and Rowan (Lukas Gage, Kristine Froseth), a couple who love each other more than anything else – and that provides the driving force for their narrative. Their backstory is fascinating, coming so late in the film – makes it earn its Reservoir Dogs comparisons when it goes for the overt Tarantino homages – and its bloody anger of youth comes funnelling through its cause. It’s not just enough for these people to fight; they must get the public’s support: they’re aware that the people who are caught must fit the public’s image. There’s a dark commentary on social media here and the current age; that runs through How to Blow Up a Pipeline like a knife cuts the tension like a knife.

Michael Mann fans will find themselves right at home thanks to a Tangerine Dream-esque score and a plot that echoes something akin to Thief - drawing from many inspirations but doing so in a way that presents the rarest thing: a new original masterwork. Backed by a kinetic, intoxicating score from Gavin Brivik that makes this wholly engrossing. A future classic? Maybe – it’s too early to tell – but this one is going to stay with me for a long, long time.

Sign Up for the SpoilerTV Newsletter where we talk all things TV!


SpoilerTV Available Ad-Free!

Support SpoilerTV is now available ad-free to for all subscribers. Thank you for considering becoming a SpoilerTV premmium member!
Latest News