John Hanlon

When you think about the real substance of the film, though, its ideology is clear. Like many “evil corporations ,” the fracking company in “Land” has a cold and hardened name: Global. As opposed to the small-town farmers depicted in the movie, the company has arrived in town to take over the community without any respect to its traditions or values. The character’s names also lack much subtlety. Butler is, of course, the character who does the corporation’s chores for them. He gets the locals to sign their land away, working for a company that he seemingly knows little about. (At one point, he even questions some of the damning evidence against his company, noting that if the evidence was true, he would have already heard about it already). On the other hand, the proud environmentalist is named Noble.

So whom would you trust? A Butler who works for a corporation -- or a Noble who loves the environment and loves spending time with regular people?

It should be noted that the story offers some twists that seek to offer more complexity to the main characters. Those twists, however, fail to take the story to a higher level. Instead, they just show how evil -- and ruthless -- the corporation really is. From the beginning of the film, the deck is stacked in favor of the environmental forces. By the end, the story reveals that much of the debate about fracking only existed because the corporation wanted it to exist.

Of course, the movie argues that Global is evil. It’s a corporation that exists solely to make money. And as Butler argues, the townspeople should agree to its requests because they too can be greedy capitalists. In one scene, he argues that the money that the townspeople receive will be “screw you money” (although Butler doesn’t use the word “screw”). But few arguments are offered about the benefits of fracking and why many consider it a viable energy source.

In other words, “Promised Land” takes a complex issue -- worthy of a vigorous and important debate about energy independence -- and simplifies it, leaving the viewer with a blatantly one-sided account of the issue.

John Hanlon

John Hanlon writes movie reviews and about pop culture for our site. He can be found on Twitter @johnhanlon.