Excerpt: Steve Butler (Matt Damon) has been sent by his employer Global to convince a small town community to lease their land for the fracking of natural gas, going door-to-door with his seasoned partner Sue (Frances McDormand). Problems arise when an ambitious environmentalist named Dustin (John Krasinski) comes to town and starts convincing the locals that Global's plans risks contaminating their water supply.
Conclusion: Matt Damon and Gus Van Sant reunite for this cautionary drama that's more about one corporate salesman's personal journey than any related politics concerning environmental issues with hydraulic fracturing. Though showing a few minor hiccups in the narrative, the film is well-made and well-intentioned, and it ultimately proves to be entertaining and satisfying.
Excerpt: The Film Matt Damon can't help but be a good guy. After all, he's Will Hunting, Jason Bourne and Jimmy Kimmel's punching bag all rolled into one pretty darn good actor. That said, Promised Land doesn't have him playing nice at all -- at first. However, he's willing to be he bad guy briefly, if it means reteaming with Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant.
Conclusion: Earnest and sincere for a stretch, manipulative and implausible in the end, Promised Land is a message movie that nearly forgets its message. Rather than present an honest story honestly, Van Sant, Damon and Krasinski drill too deep and poison the waters, adding in a twist that almost ruins the entire experience.
Excerpt: Using film to advocate for one side of an issue or another is a tricky business: “If you want to send a message, try Western Union,” goes the famous Frank Capra quote. Documentaries risk being brushed off as mere propaganda—Capra produced some of that himself with the Why We Fight films—but if anything, fiction features have it tougher, because at least documentaries can make their case plainly and directly.