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<Movie Details
11 December 2013 by Tim Evans

When country boy Steve Butler (Damon) saw his rural home town sink after the closure of the local tractor factory he enthusiastically became a corporate pin-up boy for lucrative natural gas extraction.

He figured that to help other small communities escape the lingering fate of his own, then mineral extraction - particularly fracking  - would bring money flooding back into local communities, funding schools and returning security.

But after a string of successful deals, Steve's sure touch seems to desert him when the petty corruption that normally accompanies his pitch fails to convince the residents of farming town McKinley and the locals decide to put it to a vote.

In the meantime, Butler has to contend with guerrilla environmentalist Dustin Noble (co-writer John Krasinski) and the wise words of local high school teacher Hal Holbrook, a formidably qualified opponent of the fracking method.

Director Gus Van Sant opts for the conventional approach of Milk with Damon charismatically convincing as the deluded good guy who genuinely believes his own pitch, even when some suspicion must fall on his devious employer.

A similar subject was amiably dealt with in the Scottish drama Local Hero but there's only a little of that little gem's small-town charm on display here.

There's an unsatisfying romantic strand with spiky local teacher Alice (a wasted DeWitt) pursued by both Krasinski's eco-warrior and Butler's regular Joe and a dubious corporate conspiracy twist that sounds hollow.

However, it's a compelling glimpse into a world of corporate chicanery where unscrupulous business giants casually toss decent chaps like Butler into the fray to take the, er, frack.