A scene from the movie “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” 2022. Neon photo

Even as I sat at my keyboard, watching this film, I felt nervous about putting this title online. I still do.

“How To Blow Up a Pipeline” is a heavily provocative title, and anywhere in the world, it’s a dangerous six-word introduction to put on paper.

I was quick to add “The Movie,” so that people and machines in those dark places who pick up such words, would get it. But we know that those of us who have to review it have also written about “How to Train your Dragon,” and other sillier pieces of work.

“Pipeline” is obviously not a guide book you can pick up in Barnes and Noble.

It is a film, a story, a genuine heart-grabbing, chiller-thriller, like a bank heist, a bomb in the World Series.

It’s written and directed by Daniel Goldhaber, Jordan Sjol and Ariela Barer, and adapted from Andreas Malm’s nonfiction book.


The “pipeline” of this film, like real ones, maybe in your state, maybe on your property, is a long, cold, line of silver metal sitting in the hot sun of Texas. Where else?

And somewhere out there, there’s a band of brothers and sisters, young activists just like your sons and daughters, who look like you, Black, white, sunburned brown, stranded in a new, frightening America.

These young people, who find themselves staring into a world full of melting glaciers, brown air, weather so stained by the breath of unbridled “progress,” are not distracted by rock festivals, movies, social network games, and while thousands of others fill the streets with placards and shouts, this group have serious work to do.

One by one, in a series of flash backs, we meet Xochitl (Ariela Barer, co-star of Hulu’s “Runaways”) and Rowan (Kristine Froseth, “The First Lady”).

The only outsider, Dwayne, (Jake Weary of “It Follows”) is the only one among them with simply a high school education and real property at stake.

Dwayne is a Texan with a small piece of land that is being seized by “eminent domain” which reminds our elders of the 1930s bank crooks, who raped the land and sent farmers West.


In this film, one so intense, we expect to see stars like Austin Butler (“Elvis”) and Ariana DeBose “West Side Story.”

But here are upcoming stars putting in their chips.

There is Theo, (Sasha Lane “America Honey”) who suffers from leukemia, clearly from growing up in polluted air.

Michael (Forrest Goodluck “The Revenant”) the Native American “builder” who puts the weapon together.

Logan (Lukas Gage “The White Lotus”), Alisha (Jayme Lawson, who played a young Michelle Obama in the television series “The First Lady”), Joanna (Irene Bedard) and Katie (Olive Jane Lorraine).

Rowan and Logan, the youngest of the group, are almost attracted by the simmering dangers, but distracted by passion, their sexual attraction to each other gives the plan its weakest link, and threatens to bring it down.


All are central in the plan. All of the roles, all of the weaknesses keep us guessing.

Watch each one in the flashbacks. Watch for the drone from the company that sees them and threatens to doom the plan.

“How to Blow Up a Pipeline” grabs us by the collar from the start, and holds us right up to the moment the fuses are lit. You’ll never be given the sense that it will all work.

The film opens Friday at Waterville’s Maine Film Center.

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

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