Directed by: Gus Van Sant
Rated: R Run Time: Genre: Drama
Opens January 4th
By Lisa Minzey of The Reel Critic.com
Happy New Year Phoenix Film Fans! In this week's new release, "Promised Land", Matt Damon reunites with his Good Will Hunting Director Gus Van Sant, but this time around has a different writing/ acting partner found in John Krasinski.
Fracking. What is it other than a weird looking substitute for a curse word? Steve Butler (Matt Damon) works for a company that has been buying up land all over rural America to operate Fracking machines to draw natural gas up from the sedimentary layers from the Earth. Steve grew up in a small town so he certainly can identify with the people he has been visiting and honing in on their mindset, fears and wishes. In his company, he and his partner Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand) are the top team, making him a front runner for an exceptionally sweet position in upper management, which has potentially landed Steve a gigantic fat raise.
That is until they reach Miller Falls, Pennsylvania. Steve knows by looking at the demographics, this should be an open & shut case, but after meeting with a few of the towns leaders, Steve is in for a big surprise. One of the high school teachers worked for a number years at Boeing and knows a thing or two about Fracking. Before Steve & Sue arrived, Frank Yates (Hal Holbrook) was able to turn half the town against the team, warning them about the potential dangers to the land and their health.
As if dealing with a former rocket scientist wasn't enough, a mysterious environmentalist, Dustin Noble (John Krasinski) arrives in town further hindering Steve's & Sue's efforts to get people to sell their land. Depending on how well Steve performs in Miller Falls is dependent on whether or not Steve gets the promotion at corporate. The only one that Steve can turn to is a local girl, Alice (Rosemarie DeWitt) whom his feeling run deeper than they should. Can Steve put his feelings aside to complete the job or will the challengers get the best of him?
Despite the timely message, this film is one that lacks originality and freshness. It seemed like this was more of a mashup between "Erin Brockovich" & "Good Will Hunting", both being excellent films. This film has all the elements of an Oscar-esq film; the cast was terrific, the direction and locations, great; the performances & topic, all good; it's just lacking that certain spark that would make it an excellent film. What this film does well is staying pretty center of taking any political or controversial sides, playing both sides evenly; neither is good or bad per se, just presents the topic in such a way that it leaves it open for discussion after the film. There is a twist in the plot that was actually quite savvy about 20-30 minutes left of the film that is brilliant that it makes up for the rest of the films blandness. Check out Promised Land when it opens in Phoenix area theaters starting Friday January 4, 2013.