Daniel Goldhaber's 'How to Blow Up A Pipeline' Movie Review + Theme Analysis


How to Blow Up a Pipeline is based on Andreas Malm's nonfiction book by the name and adapted for the screen by Daniel Goldhaber, Ariela Barer, and Jordan Sjol. Directed by Goldhaber, an environmental studies film major, the movie stars Ariela Barer, Kristine Froseth, Lukas Gage, Forrest Goodluck, Sasha Lane, Jayme Lawson, Marcus Scribner, and Jake Weary.

For the full review, please view the video or listen to the podcast. 

How to Blow Up a Pipeline is a nail-biting heist film boosted by a powerful message and the performances of the cast. It's all good to muse about the effects of oil on the environment in theory but another to come face-to-face with people impacted by those effects. 

Each person on the team has their own reason for taking action, but they unite as one to inflict damage on the titular pipeline. We learn their back stories throughout, of course leaving the most illuminating for the last act. These characters believe they are the heroes in this story, and viewers have to decide if they agree with that assessment.

[L-R] Marcus Scribner as SHAWN, Jake Weary as DWAYNE, Ariel Barer as XOCHITL in HOW TO BLOW UP A PIPELINE

If movies are platforms to engage with new ideas, this delivers in spades, while at the same time offering a riveting and engaging story. But the final message remains unclear.

You will get to consider if they come out on the other side with any power regained. Most of the characters are people of color, but they are all powerless and rendered voiceless to change their situation. They have tried every other avenue. The damage they inflict is a temporary glitch in the system. Afterwards, more than likely, the damages will be repaired and business returned to normal. Does the action create an illusion of power for a moment? Or does it matter, as long as you said something?

A film that leaves you with questions and no answers, How to Blow Up a Pipeline lays down a bold statement on the line between terrorism and self-defense. 

Release date: In theaters since April 7, 2023. 

Final score: 4 out of 5