How to Blow Up a Pipeline (2022)
May 1, 2023 1:44 PM - Subscribe

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

Directed by Daniel Goldhaber, who co-wrote the screenplay with Ariela Barer and Jordan Sjol. It relies on ideas advanced in Andreas Malm's 2021 book of the same name. It stars Barer, Kristine Froseth, Lukas Gage, Forrest Goodluck, Sasha Lane, Jayme Lawson, Marcus Scribner, Jake Weary and Irene Bedard.
posted by The Notorious SRD (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I was trying to find out earlier tonight when this goes into wide release but came up empty. All I could find is that it's been in a few cities in the U.S. since April 7th.
posted by mediareport at 8:38 PM on May 1, 2023

Curious what your verdict is, TNSRD. The early reviews seem good, (and also say it doesn't really tell you how to blow up a pipeline, if that possibility bothers anyone). Is it worth a watch?
posted by mediareport at 6:43 AM on May 2, 2023

It was SO GOOD. A lot of reviews called it "efficient" and that is exactly right. They did a great job ramping the intensity up to level 10 on a low budget. Not a single scene is wasted. Very few conversations are...not about blowing up the pipeline. This maybe shaved a little bit depth from the characters, but they still looked and felt very real otherwise.

They did a great job going back and forth in time and focusing on how each member of the crew became radicalized, and mixing into their interwoven stories different examples of how some of the various forms of activism (divestment campaigns, etc) are well-intentioned but insufficient on their own as a solution. In that regard, it lives up to the spirit of the book/manifesto and the whole thing is pretty unapologetically pro-ecoterrorist - to the extent that I'm sort of shocked it got greenlit! You can tell there are no mixed feelings among the creators of this film about the task at hand, no "grey areas" here which was refreshing to see.

Also bonus points - EXTREMELY cool synth soundtrack that lended to it's Heist Film aesthetic.
posted by windbox at 7:34 AM on May 2, 2023 [4 favorites]

I saw it a few weeks ago. Funnily enough I only knew it was in theaters here because the Alberta government issued a press release warning everyone about it.

I thought it was pretty solid. It shows the steps in manufacturing ANFO in more detail than the typical movie, but it's not exactly a step by step guide or anything. Like the book, it is more about why to blow up a pipeline.

My one quibble is that they spend relatively little time on how the gang come together. It jumps back and forth in time showing how they each, individually, come around to the idea and showing the deed itself. But the actual, critical, "how to form a terrorist cell" step is mostly offscreen (we see them meet, but largely not the conversation that comes next). But this is a minor omission, and probably a consequence of run time.
posted by selenized at 8:43 AM on May 2, 2023 [1 favorite]

Agreed - I almost wished it was produced as a mini-series so it could go more into aspects like that - it definitely leaves a big gap between "these characters got fucked over in various ways/are very angry" and " anyway now they're a 'crew' of eco-terrorists executing a plan they made". It requires a little bit of buy-in on that front.

I've seen a few comparisons to Ocean's 11 but really didn't get that vibe at all - for one, it's certainly not as silly, but it's also missing a lot of the "getting the crew together" and "clever planning montage" tropes that we see in this type of heist film. I still give it a solid A and think everyone should see it.
posted by windbox at 9:39 AM on May 2, 2023 [2 favorites]

Driving from Edmonton to Vancouver along the length of the transmountain pipeline (link to map of pipelines from the Canada Energy Regulator) gave me lots of time to consider the question that is the title of this film.

Even moreso because in eastern BC (hwy 5 north of kamloops) construction seems to take priority over everything else.

For my money, the best time to blow up a pipeline is going to be while it's under construction for the simple reason that there's nothing in it yet. Sure, it's easier to repair at that point, but that's an easy tradeoff against causing further environmental damage.

But! The revelation for me was just how much environmental damage is done in the construction phase!

People worry about the contents of the pipeline fouling the environment, which is fair. But driving for DAYS seeing nothing but a giant scar alongside the highway was depressing beyond words. I know that in a few decades that should heal, but the scope of it is enormous. The actual best time to stop a pipeline is when/before it is proposed. I live in Alberta, though, so...

Pipelines are probably the safest way to transport volatile fluids (I haven't checked stats, so I might be wrong). I think that transport by rail or truck is so obviously worse, but... The safest place for cars to travel long distances is a highway but I don't think we need to be building more highways either!

Anyway. I'll watch this to see if their plans are any better than mine. I've come up with a few, but they all involve me being willing to go to jail which I am not. I'll stick to bothering elected officials by email.
posted by Acari at 1:32 PM on May 3, 2023 [1 favorite]

Me: The soundtrack is really good. I’m digging the synths. Kind of Blade Runner-y, very Vangelis-y.

(Synths swell over a shot of gas flares set against the sky)

Me: Ohhhhhhhhhh
posted by thecaddy at 5:24 AM on June 1, 2023 [1 favorite]

« Older Last Week Tonight with John Ol...   |  Special Event: Jeopardy! May 3... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments