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December 09, 2012

Promised Land

Promised LandHowever cynically persuasive Dave Eggers’s treatise on national corporate misconduct regarding the widespread purchase of private lands for hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. “fracking”), the story flails as a result of its ambiguous protagonist. Matt Damon’s Steve Butler is such a smooth gas-drilling company salesman that he believes his own hype. Steve has not only drank the Kool-Aid of his employer “Global,” he’s almost ready for the cyanide pill.

Steve’s Midwest roots give him a running start at winning over his indigenous civilian pray. He wears a pair of 40-year-old “heirloom” boots that prove his street cred. Steve and his all-business partner Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand) carry out their ritual. They roll into town, pick up some generic clothing items from local gas-and-groceries store. Steve and Sue go door-to-door offering money to destitute citizens, essentially ready to sell their soul to the devil for economic liberation.

“Promised Land” is an environment activist film — it was partly financed by Image Nation Abu Dhabi. “Fracking” is explained as being as devastating to natural environments as it probably is by Hal Holbrook’s theme-carrying character. The movie makes back its nut based on a crafty narrative twist that reveals just how corrupt corporations are — and how brutally they play two ends against a dying public middle.

Rated R. 86 mins. (B-) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)

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