Promised Land


Promised Land

Critics Consensus

The earnest and well-intentioned Promised Land sports a likable cast, but it also suffers from oversimplified characterizations and a frustrating final act.



Total Count: 152


Audience Score

User Ratings: 20,344
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Promised Land Photos

Movie Info

Promised Land is the new contemporary drama directed by Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, Milk). Matt Damon plays Steve Butler, an ace corporate salesman who is sent along with his partner, Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand), to close a key rural town in his company's expansion plans. With the town having been hit hard by the economic decline of recent years, the two outsiders see the local citizens as likely to accept their company's offer, for drilling rights to their properties, as much-needed relief. What seems like an easy job for the duo becomes complicated by the objection of a respected schoolteacher (Hal Holbrook) with support from a grassroots campaign led by another man (John Krasinski), as well as the interest of a local woman (Rosemarie DeWitt). Promised Land explores America at the crossroads where big business and the strength of small-town community converge.

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Matt Damon
as Steve Butler
John Krasinski
as Dustin Noble
Frances McDormand
as Sue Thomason
Hal Holbrook
as Frank Yates
Scoot McNairy
as Jeff Dennon
Terry Kinney
as David Churchill
Carla Bianco
as Waitress
Joe Coyle
as Michael Downey
Lexi Cowan
as Drew's Girl
Tim Guinee
as Drew Scott
Sara Lindsey
as Claire Allen
Garrett Ashbaugh
as Basketball Player
Max Schuler
as Carson Allen
Ken Strunk
as Gerry Richards
Gerri Bumbaugh
as Jesse the Bartender
Erin Baldwin
as Buddy's Waitress
Andrew Kuebel
as 6-year-old Boy
Justin Cook
as Guitar #1
Bruce Craven
as Guitar #2
Gene Williams
as Keyboard
Dan Anders
as Large Man
Lucas Black
as Paul Geary
Sandy Medred
as Paul's Girlfriend
Alexander Cain
as Danny Thomason
Joy De La Paz
as Motel Receptionist
Lennon Wynn Kuzniar
as Lemonade Girl at Gym
Payton Godfrey
as Lemonade Girl at Fair
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News & Interviews for Promised Land

Critic Reviews for Promised Land

All Critics (152) | Top Critics (41)

  • A gentle rather than dramatic film that, once the central argument is laid out, lacks real flair.

    Apr 19, 2013 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Van Sant is no Frank Capra, so why is he trying so hard to be?

    Apr 18, 2013 | Rating: 1/5
  • Gus Van Sant's fracking drama pits Matt Damon's energy executive against John Krasinski's eco-dreamboat in a battle for the minds of backwater farmers and the heart of Rosemarie DeWitt's moony schoolma'am.

    Feb 8, 2013 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Andrew Pulver

    Top Critic
  • This is a solid if at times too conventional tale of a classic moral conflict.

    Jan 4, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • [It's mostly] a well-wrought drama that feels genuine as it goes about spinning a tale worthy of our challenging times.

    Jan 4, 2013 | Rating: 3/4
  • Promised Land is more effective as an anti-fracking screed than as a drama.

    Jan 4, 2013 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Promised Land

  • Jan 03, 2015
    For the most part, this is an engaging and thought-provoking drama with excellent dialogue and complex characters facing complex ethical issues, but it is terribly frustrating to see it all reach an unjustifiable revelation and an unconvincing - yet thematically consistent - conclusion.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 19, 2014
    The film was ok, but could have been so much better. I felt like I have seen this type of film before. It was very predictable. Nothing new here. It kind of reminded me in a strange way of American President and Campaign. The performances by Damon and the cast are good, but they needed a better story. The pacing was off at times too.
    Sol C Super Reviewer
  • Nov 15, 2013
    This is a excellent film starring Matt Damon and Frances McDormand as Two Reps for a Huge Natural Gas Conglomerate that is trying to buy up land rights from farmers in a dying town. John Krasinski plays an idealist working for an activist firm, warning the townsfolk, that the fracking that destroyed his own families farm, might destroy the town. This film, directed expertly by Gus Van Sant, makes you think about farms that have been in families for generations, and it seems a world away if you have lived in large metropolitan areas your entire life. The film is essentially a moral dilemma story that encourages the viewer to investigate the issues and come to their own conclusions. This is a fine film to watch with older children, as the film encourages critical thinking. There are times in life when there are no easy answers, and its hard to tell who the good guys and bad guys are at times in this story. That is one reason this is a great film. Life can often be a muddled, dark, unclean puddle.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 10, 2013
    Promised Land is the sort of environmentalist drama that wears its themes on its sleeve, with clear protagonists and antagonists, set in a clear cut morality tale. This can sometimes work and even be done interestingly, but Promised Land instead opts for conventional story-lines, shallow characterizations, and predictable outcomes. It feels less like a film than a politicized commercial with a bland after-school special treatment, drawn out to over one and a half hours. The chief problem with Promised Land is the script. Everything about Promised Land feels predictable, there is no sense of ambiguity or fairness. Instead, it comes across as preachy, exceedingly liberal, and condescending. The way the townsfolk react, the melodrama of the third act, the stilted, and heavy handed dialogue, all of it feels manipulative. Add to this the fact that the film features little else than condemnations of fraking, as none of the human elements that it attempts to inject, poorly so, feel real or involving at any level. The performances are all fine, with a charismatic Matt Damon, and the always great Frances McDormand, but there is nothing to the substance of the film that allows any of the actors to bring any vibrancy to their roles. Everything feels by-the-book, conventional, one-note, and agenda-driven. Above, it's simply boring. 2.5/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer

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