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  • Writer's pictureWill Scarbrough

Review: How to Blow Up a Pipeline

A crew of environmental activists plot a daring plan to disrupt an oil pipeline.


Ariela Barer, Kristine Froseth, Lukas Gage, Forrest Goodluck, Sasha Lane, Jayme Lawson, Marcus Scribner & Jake Weary.


How to Blow Up a Pipeline is the newest heist, thriller of the year so far and is extremely apparent with its stunning opening few minutes. Beginning the film is a terrifically edited, shot, composed & directed opener full of great visual storytelling, conveying to the audience all they need to know to understand each character and where they come from.


It is clear from the get go that the film would go at speed, never giving audiences time to ‘breathe’ & digest everything presented to them throughout the film. Which is both this film’s weakness and strength. Its fast pacing makes for some incredibly tense moments & conveys that feeling of suffocating which the characters try to stop, by attempting to improve climate change. However, this means we don’t get too many moments where we sit with our characters and emotionally connect to them. I believe the film relies a little too much on the audience’s own knowledge on climate change and what’s negatively affecting it. As I don’t have too much knowledge on the matter, I didn’t completely understand the extreme intention of the characters or what stopping pipeline’s is going to do for the environment.


The film raises awareness, however I believe it would have been more effective if a little more educational, 5 minutes extra with a little more exposition would be enough. All the performances, however, are all great and each character feels lived in and unique. Despite the good performance, Sasha Lane is starting to become too familiar, often playing characters with similar personalities and ultimately took me out the film a couple times.


The sound design accompanied by the stunning cinematography make for some gorgeously conveyed moments of tension & content. In their decisions & goals for the future of activism. The score, reminiscent of Tenet, is electric and almost always present. Helping build that energising camera work into an explosive finale.


With its quick pacing, unfortunately came for a rather disappointing ending. While I have nothing against necessary sudden endings, I felt as though it wasn’t warranted here. It rather ends with a quote that felt too forced & spells the messages out the audience, as if we didn’t understand the intentions behind the acts of the characters throughout the film. In the name of climate change. I felt as though a little more subtlety in the end would have been stronger.


All in all, How to Blow Up a Pipeline is brilliantly directed thrilling experience that had me on the edge of my seat for its hour 30 long runtime. While I felt it had some script issues, it’s hard to deny the excellence behind the camera & those in the post production room.


3.5 / 5

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