Today's Box Office: Promised Land

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- THV 11's film critic Jonathan Nettles takes a look at the new film Promised Land in this week's "Today's Box Office".

Arkansas has seen its' share of the oil and natural gas drilling boom in recent years. You've probably heard the tales of how they get the precious resources, called "fracking". Regulators and environmental enthusiasts have fought over the impact it has had on our Natural State. The argument seems to come down to "we want the money from it, but we don't want it happening in our backyard".

This is the heart of Promised Land as Matt Damon's character, Steve Butler, is a corporate salesperson for a global oil company. His job is to go into a town after the geologists have left and buy the mineral rights from the local landowners. He gives most of them the standard deal which is based on how much land they own and offers them the promise of being potential millionaires. He's very good at his job, going into towns that have fallen on very hard times with plant closings and the economy in distress and convincing the town folk that his oil company is the savior they've sought. The other side of the coin is environmentalist Dustin Noble, played by John Krasinski, he's a young guy who plays the game of salesperson better than Steve except that his job is to change the minds of the town and make them question their decision. He's able to counter Steve at nearly every turn, often beating him to the punch. Steve is used to being able to give a very large cash donation to whichever environmental group shows to challenge him and seeing them quietly leave town. Dustin is different, with a personal vendetta against the oil company. It forces Steve to reconsider his choices, his direction, and what he really believes is true of his life.

Promised Land portrays the entire dance between environmentalists, oil companies, and landowners as a game. Like all salespeople, Matt Damon knows the game and plays it well; Krasinski somehow manages to cut him off at every turn, while the most of the townspeople seem to be pawns played by whichever side can hold their attention. The big question of the film is, how much of are we willing to sacrifice and hand over to people we know nothing about but make big promises.

Promised Land is written by John Krasinski and Matt Damon who is reunited with Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant.

Also out this week, The Impossible starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts as a couple on vacation with their family in Thailand when a tsunami strikes, separating the family and putting into motion an incredible tale that defies the odds. Another remake of Texas Chainsaw also hits theaters.

Here's what's on DVD and Blu Ray this week:
The Words
Resident Evil: Retribution
Premium Rush
Killer Joe
Trouble with the Curve
Total Recall


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