Willie Waffle is the movie critic for people who hate movie critics.

Promised Land - Not Controversial, Just Boring - Review


promisedlandposter.jpgI know lots of people have a problem when a movie takes a stand on some issue, but proselytizing on film never bothers me, so Promised Land can say whatever it wants about fracking and the environment and big corporate business.  What really bothers me about the movie is that it stinks.    

Matt Damon stars as Steve Butler - an acquisition expert for a major natural gas company looking to lease farm land in rural Pennsylvania. They use a process known as fracking to unleash gas deposits from underground.  Of course, some feel this is not safe for the environment or public health, and Steve soon finds out he has opposition when Dustin Noble (John Krasinski) shows up in town to convince everyone not to go along with the plan (Really?  Dustin NOBLE?)    

I have to admit Promised Land is a bit more complicated and even handed when it comes to the message about protecting the environment or seeing these land leases as the chance of a lifetime for many failing farms to cash in and provide a future for the owners and their families.

The movie's failure is one of not bringing enough drama.  It's just not interesting.

Damon and Krasinski also wrote Promised Land and they do a good job setting up a decent story about two battling forces trying to win over the hearts and minds of the people of this town, but it doesn't go beyond setting it up.    

There's not enough of the give and take and tactics each is using to win.   Also, for a guy who is supposed to be a wunderkind strategist, Damon's character seems woefully inadequate and incompetent when faced with the least bit of miniscule opposition (did this guy run the Romney campaign?).  It doesn't feel real and it doesn't grab our attention the way a well balanced battle would.   promisedlandFOCUS.jpg 

Most of all, director Gus Van Sant gives a movie that movie feels overly muted.  Even though this is supposed to be some revelatory, life altering experience for Damon's character, it doesn't feel like it.  We get more of a suddenness at the end of the movie rather than building to the big climactic moment.   

Plus, that ending is a mess of strange, complicated twists and motivations.


1 Waffles (Out of 4)

Promised Land is rated R for language