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The First Great Action Movie About Climate Justice?

Few recent books on the climate movement have so flustered audiences like Andreas Malm’s How to Blow Up a Pipeline. Since its publication in 2021, the left commentariat has spilled much ink weighing the potential benefits and costs of Malm’s call to sabotage fossil-fuel infrastructure because—to echo the IPCC’s bleak annual reports on climate change—we’re running out of time. But in other corners of opinion, a familiar blend of fascination and disdain emerged. “The problem with violence,” The New York Times noted in its initial review, “is that ultimately it’s impossible to control.” David Remnick of The New Yorker fretted that the property damage might “backfire and damage the movement.” Later, on her SiriusXM talk show, Megyn Kelly smirked at the book’s title and said, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

For decades, the popular image of the climate activist in the media has jounced somewhere between out-of-touch tree-hugger and deranged supervillain, either too docile to meaningfully challenge their opponents or too crazy to be trusted with power. But Daniel Goldhaber’s film adaptation of How to Blow Up a Pipeline does away with that paradigm. The film—written by Goldhaber and his friends Ariela Barer and Jordan Sjol—boils down Malm’s book into a tightly wound thriller, in which eight lead characters who live hundreds of miles away from one another come together in heist-movie fashion to do exactly what the title states: destroy a major pipeline near Odessa, Tex.

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