Metascore
55

Mixed or average reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 36
  2. Negative: 2 out of 36
  1. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Jan 2, 2013
    83
    Urgent, heartfelt, and not-quite-as-predictable-as-you-think environmental rabble-rouser.
  2. Reviewed by: Jeannette Catsoulis
    Dec 27, 2012
    80
    Though the film eventually caves to sentiment and stereotype, its alert performances and muted rhythms offer much to enjoy in the interim.
  3. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Dec 27, 2012
    80
    Krasinki's soft-sell script, lets the movie's ideas get absorbed without grandstanding or pretension. Its issues go down with a smile and common sense, which turns out to be exactly the right formula.
  4. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Jan 10, 2013
    75
    Van Sant moves easily from dreamy, impressionistic narratives to conventional, less stylized storytelling, and he does the latter job well in Promised Land.
  5. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Jan 4, 2013
    75
    The characters drive this story, not ideology. Damon and McDormand are terrific as co-workers seeking the same goal, though they see their work from different points of view.
  6. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Jan 3, 2013
    75
    Promised Land is an involving and timely tale that explores the changing nature and complex challenges of rural life.
  7. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Dec 28, 2012
    75
    Promised Land is a fine place to start appreciating Matt Damon, who always makes it seem as if everybody else is acting and he's just going through the movie being natural.
  8. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Dec 27, 2012
    75
    The rhetorically stacked deck, and some unconvincing third-act plot twists, get in the way of this movie's efforts to reach the cinematic promised land of true greatness.
  9. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Dec 27, 2012
    75
    Director Gus Van Sant finds the human side of a knotty issue. No polemics. Just the face of a new America in crisis.
  10. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Jan 4, 2013
    67
    The film has lots of small moments that make it a worthy effort.
  11. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Jan 4, 2013
    67
    Promised Land is more effective as an anti-fracking screed than as a drama. Damon has his low-key charisma and Van Sant captures the enraged anomie of the community, but, except for one big plot twist, everything in this film is telegraphed from the first frame.
  12. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Dec 6, 2012
    67
    Promised Land can't help but preach its cause in obvious ways that continually hold back an otherwise well-acted, swiftly paced drama.
  13. 63
    Damon the Oscar-winning writer does something nobody else in Hollywood would – write a dumb character for Matt Damon to play.
  14. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jan 4, 2013
    63
    Because he's the protagonist of the movie and played by the likable Matt Damon, we keep an open mind, but Promised Land is morally ambiguous to a fault.
  15. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Dec 27, 2012
    63
    It's a fine line between interesting characters and "Northern Exposure" quirk, but the movie mostly stays on the right side of it.
  16. Reviewed by: Andrew Pulver
    Feb 9, 2013
    60
    Promised Land seems to lose its nerve a little politically: as it goes on, you realise it isn't about fracking at all, but a tract on machiavellian corporate behaviour and their employees' self-deception.
  17. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Jan 4, 2013
    60
    The ultimate goal of a film like this, of course, is to change minds. As compelling a case as it builds, Promised Land isn't quite persuasive enough to be able to promise to do that.
  18. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Dec 7, 2012
    60
    Promised Land presents its environmental concerns in a clear, upfront manner but hits some narrative and character bumps in the second half that weaken the impact of this fundamentally gentle, sympathetic work.
  19. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Jan 13, 2013
    50
    Like so many earnestly conceived morality tales, Promised Land is built around a man's quandaries. Any actor less skilled and sympathetic than Damon might have betrayed the material into obviousness. [14 Jan. 2013, p.78]
  20. 50
    Promised Land is a low-budget effort, far too awkward and contrived a drama to change many hearts and minds.
  21. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jan 3, 2013
    50
    There's also reason to worry when a simplistic movie like this one takes on an issue of overarching importance to the nation's future. The challenges presented by fracking are immense, and Capra-esque nostalgia isn't helpful.
  22. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Dec 28, 2012
    50
    Despite their Everyman appeal, Damon and Krasinski don't create much by way of emotional investment, instead becoming mirror images of their most mild-mannered, white-bread selves.
  23. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Dec 28, 2012
    50
    Unfortunately, much of what's good about Promised Land is easily forgotten as a result of the preachy, impossible-to-swallow final 15 minutes in which the protagonist is subjected to character assassination, the screenplay turns into a sermon, and narrative intelligence is discarded in favor of a message.
  24. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Dec 27, 2012
    50
    Promised Land is a frustrating film to watch. It should be better than this, smarter than this.
  25. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Dec 27, 2012
    50
    It's got a strong cast and an intriguing premise that has the added bonus of real-world relevance. But, good intentions and good work aside, the film flounders before it reaches its conclusion.
  26. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Dec 27, 2012
    50
    An earnest attempt, sometimes effective, sometimes clumsy, to dramatize the central arguments about fracking and its impact.
  27. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Dec 27, 2012
    50
    More an argument than a fully fleshed-out drama ... The script is unconvincing; two key narrative twists, one related to the other, are deeply hokey.
  28. Reviewed by: Nick Pinkerton
    Dec 27, 2012
    50
    Van Sant knows how to display the common touch, but the movie is a hard sell whose ending is never in doubt.
  29. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Dec 27, 2012
    50
    No one seems to recognize the irony of making a film about corporate rigging that is itself outrageously rigged.
  30. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Dec 6, 2012
    50
    By manipulating their story to advance the cynical notion that you really can't trust anyone, the filmmakers inadvertently beg the question why their own motives should be so above suspicion.
  31. Reviewed by: Rodrigo Perez
    Dec 6, 2012
    50
    It's Middle America vs. big bad corporate America, and while the (not so) "bad guy" predictably finds salvation in salt-of-the-earth people, Promised Land often leaves a sour taste in your mouth.
  32. Reviewed by: Bilge Ebiri
    Dec 31, 2012
    40
    It collapses on all fronts, delivering hot-button platitudes and just-add-water character development.
  33. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Dec 27, 2012
    40
    Yet worst of all is the way the film ultimately reveals its humanistic setup as a lazy pretext to redeem Damon's big-business apologist through the healing power of nature. He's not the only one who should be put out to pasture.
  34. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Dec 27, 2012
    40
    Left-wingers in the mainstream media - by which I mean me - are supposed to lap up a movie that plays to our farm-loving, tree-hugging prejudices. But even we know that well-meaning does not automatically equal good movie. Some organic life is needed. And the only crop Promised Land harvests is Capra Corn.
  35. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Dec 28, 2012
    38
    Much has been made of the fact that Promised Land was partly funded by the enemies of our domestic gas industry - the foreign oil nabobs in the United Arab Emirates. But the film gets so cheesy that I suspect it was also secretly funded by Velveeta.
  36. Reviewed by: Ed Gonzalez
    Dec 5, 2012
    38
    Gus Van Sant's new film offends for how it views the struggles of the landowners at the heart of its story as subservient to their oppressor's triumph of the spirit.
User Score
5.9

Mixed or average reviews- based on 51 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 18
  2. Negative: 5 out of 18
  1. Jan 5, 2013
    7
    In a nutshell: fine acting, skillful directing, beautiful photography, sublime soundtrack, murky screenplay. The politics in the movie areIn a nutshell: fine acting, skillful directing, beautiful photography, sublime soundtrack, murky screenplay. The politics in the movie are actually rather low key -- the other "reviewers" here clearly haven't seen the movie and are trying to push a "drill baby drill" perspective. The non-politics part of the screenplay is where the movie gets into trouble. Damon plays "Steve" who is supposed to be a hotshot closer who can get people to sign over their rights three times better than any other team. Yet he seems befuddled and confused through much of the whole process once he arrives in town to sign people's rights away. We're told he's good, but we never really see a gung-ho seller. Although Damon is a fine actor, I think he's miscast -- the part really needs an oily, dubious huckster like Brad Pitt. Frances McDormand is exceptional in her part, and Holbrook gives a sublime performance, although his part just disappears through the middle of the movie. Krasinski is exceptionally fine here and really lives the part of a glib gladhander. Rosemarie DeWitt is just wonderful in a beautiful performance. In sum, I wouldn't call this a "must see," but it's definitely worth a cable or DVD watching for the fine performances and lovely look of the movie. Full Review »
  2. Jan 4, 2013
    0
    The film is nothing more than propaganda against the energy industry. There is very little actual "content" around this myriad of bad acting,The film is nothing more than propaganda against the energy industry. There is very little actual "content" around this myriad of bad acting, poor writing, and incendiary rhetoric. This is NOT a thoughtful reflection on critical issues surrounding our growing need for energy against environmental and public safety dangers. There are many other ways to engage in this vital debate rather than watching this nonsensical diatribe. The filmmakers did very little homework and over simplified both side, actually. Citizens living in rural America should be outraged by their portrayal as simpering dolts. Spending money on this film only further enables Hollywood to masquerade uninformed opinions as fact. Full Review »
  3. Apr 11, 2013
    0
    If there was a point to this movie I have missed.
    This movie advertises itself as a message but really falls flat delivering said message.
    If there was a point to this movie I have missed.
    This movie advertises itself as a message but really falls flat delivering said message.
    Other than that it is extremely boring.
    Full Review »