Just Do It (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner14/07/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Engaging and frequently eye-opening documentary that gives a valuable voice to a section of the protest movement that's often dismissed by the media, though the film loses focus in the second half and runs out of things to say.

What's it all about?
Directed by Emily James, Just Do It: A Tale of Modern-Day Outlaws is a documentary that follows various members of an environmental direct action movement in the UK, a section of the protest movement that's often dismissed by the mainstream media. Key figures include: 40-something mother of two Marina Pepper, who is never without her beloved kettle and fights police action by offering them cups of tea; ex-art student Sophie Nathan, who stood in the May 2010 local elections as the Post-Capitalist Party's one and only candidate; and ex-Cambridge student Sally, who gained notoriety by chaining herself to the railings outside Peter Mandelson's house.

The film also follows two distinct campaigns – the Plane Stupid campaign (protesting against the expansion of Stansted airport) and Climate Camp, which is used as a base for the film's best set-piece, a planned invasion and staged sit-in at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The Good
James has secured remarkable access to her subjects, gaining an astonishing level of trust, especially given that the footage could easily be used against them in court. The various characters are passionate, engaging and frequently funny, especially Marina, who's the most frequent interviewee.

The film's most exciting sequence is the planning and execution of the action on the Royal Bank of Scotland, which is staged exactly like a heist in a thriller; it's genuinely fascinating to see everyone calmly sitting around beforehand, being explained their rights and the probable consequences of their actions and individually deciding whether or not they're going to engage in actions they could be arrested for. The film is also genuinely heart-warming (and funny) in places, particularly during a sequence where protesters stage a diversion in order to get food to striking wind turbine factory workers, winning the respect and loyalty of the local community in the process.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that it starts to feel a little repetitive in the second half and loses focus once it moves away from the specific protests. Similarly, James stops short of asking too many probing questions - Marina's reaction to the question, “Are you doing any good?” is particularly revealing and this idea could have been explored in greater depth.

Worth seeing?
In short, Just Do It is an entertaining, engaging and thought provoking documentary, though its slightly let down by a lack of focus in the second half.

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Just Do It (12A)
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Content updated: 22/09/2018 18:35

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