When I first saw the name and synopsis of How to Blow Up a Pipeline I was intrigued, but cautious. It was billed as a thriller with some eco activists so it really could have gone 2 ways in my head. What transpired turned out to be a third way I wasn’t expecting.
The movie tells the tale of some activists that are all angry at the oil industry for different reasons. Whether it was destroying cultural land, causing sever sickness due to growing up near the refinery, they have their reasons to be mad. So, what they do is concoct a plan to do damage to one of those nasty pipelines to disrupt the oil industry in their area.
This is where it could have gone one of two ways, it could have made the story some capitalist propaganda where the cops stop the evil victims from the poor oil industry. Alternatively it could have been a story about them managing to get away from the cops that are hot on their tails. Well those were what I expected, and instead the movie surprised me by taking the police side of things out of it.
The focus is on the team, trying to concoct their plan, and trying to put it into action. Naturally with things like explosives, not everything goes right. But it is clear they want to complete their task without hurting the environment or other people. In this way it could be seen as glorifying their acts a bit, but the movie on the whole does a pretty good job of making it clear that these aren’t the best people around. It kind of winds up in this anti-hero space where you kind of root for them, but not because you like them.
The biggest issue the movie has is it jumps around a bit too much. We follow the present plot for a bit, before it jumps back and gives a character’s backstory. It does this throughout, and early on I wasn’t sure which direction time was jumping. Once it’s in the rhythm it does it OK, but it’s never completely clear and it breaks the flow at times.
The acting and film work are very cleverly done. It’s obvious this has been done on a budget, but nothing feels overly cheap about it. It winds up feeling like a low budget movie that isn’t restricted by its budget.
On the whole How To Blow Up A Pipeline is a really solid movie. It’s clever and different, and provides a great interesting story that so many movies struggle to achieve. It has its issues, but they are all outweighed by its achievements.