In other words, a typically stupid Hollywood thriller plot, except for a minor deviation: The poor shmuck actor is Matt Damon and he’s making a real movie, albeit with its own typically stupid Hollywood plot, one that doubles down on the conventional “evil oil company” stereotype. …

If a screenplay leaked by the pro-fracking activist Phelim McAleer is accurate, art dies in Mr. Damon’s movie in an ironic way. In the real world, water-pollution fears put forward by fracking’s opponents have proved largely hokum. The movie deals with this inconvenient fact by turning its eco-activist protagonist into an agent provocateur of the oil company, whose job is to discredit the environmental opposition from within. …

Bad art is bad art. It seeks to compensate for its own lack of confidence by inflating the stakes. What makes fracking fascinating is precisely the quotidian fact that, in every way, we are inclined to celebrate economic progress except when it disturbs our own familiar scenery and routines. Fracking, for this reason, is proving to be the most carefully observed, policed and debated industrial revolution in the history of industrial revolutions. And a movie that had the courage to be interesting about all this might actually be worth watching.