Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant and co-writing star Matt Damon re-team for this cautionary environmental tale. Oil company salesman Steve Butler (Damon) uses his small-town background to his advantage when he persuades poor rural towns to sign over the mineral rights beneath their homes for the controversial 'fracking' natural gas extraction method. However, he doesn't get it all his own way when the people of McKinley begin to have second thoughts... Nicely acted and with Van Sant in mainstream, conventional mode, this has interesting things to say about corporate responsibility and the moral clout of local communities.
Gus Van Sant
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.
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.