Film Review – Promised Land (2012)

Promised Land

Title – Promised Land (2012)

Director – Gus Van Sant (Gerry)

Cast – Matt Damon, Frances McDormand, John Krasinski, Rosemarie DeWitt, Hal Holbrook, Lucas Black, Scott McNairy

Plot – Working for natural gas company Global, salesman Steve Butler (Matt Damon) along with co-worker Sue (McDormand) are given the unenviable job of securing peoples land in order to start the process of harvesting natural gases from there farm land. Steve and Sue run into trouble when they come across retired scientist and farmer Frank Yates (Holbrook) and environmentalist Dustin Noble (Krasinski). Will Steve be able to get his job done while battling these opposes and dealing with a new love interest Alice (DeWitt)?

“This town, this life… it’s dying”

Review by Eddie on 18/09/2013

When the dust settles on Gus Van Sant’s career it will be clear that the man has one of the most unique and also up and down filmographies in the history of celluloid. Ranging from the extreme peaks of classics such as Good Will Hunting/Elephant, the good but not great such as Finding Forrester/Milk then the lowly lows of Restless/Psycho Van Sant is about as trustworthy as a politician when it comes to product control. Thankfully Promised Land finds itself in the mid-section of Van Sant’s catalogue while never really reaching its full potential.

Like the title Promised Land showed a lot of promise both in its cast and its story potential. The issue of harvesting natural gas is a topical and relevant topic in today’s climate and anyone who has seen the fantastic documentary Gasland will have more than a few doubts about the process of “fraking”. Written by comedian John Krasinski with help from Matt Damon, Promised Land looks to play both the environmental card and the drama card in equal measure which really in the end works against the film as it becomes a film that masters neither yet neither majorly disappoints.

Matt Damon gives one of his more grounded in reality performances here as salesman Steve Butler. It’s a different role for Damon and he does well as a man you can’t really love but also can’t hate due to his undeniable charisma. The supports in the film all do well in limited screen time but it would have been nice to find ourselves spending more time with characters such as Lucas Blacks clueless citizen Paul Geary or Hal Halbrook’s science teacher Frank Yates, more time spent with these people could of given Promised Land that little bit more heart and therefore given it more rewarding emotional payoffs.

Promised Land is a very inoffensive film that feels like somewhat of a missed opportunity to really pull out the punches. Van Sant has a habit of directing films in a workmanlike but un-enthusiastic way and Promised Land is one of them, but that doesn’t mean the film doesn’t provide solid entertainment in a never dull and always believable fashion. Promised Land offers up comfortable and reliable entertainment just don’t go expecting to receive a lasting impression from it.

3 and a half boots out of 5

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4 responses to “Film Review – Promised Land (2012)

  1. While it’s obvious what side of the coin Damon is on, he still shouldn’t have been so damn preachy about it. Because seriously, there could have been a good, compelling story to tell here, it just got muddled. Nice review.

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