Just Do It: A Tale of Modern-Day Outlaws

Just Do It was filmed over a year as filmmaker Emily James gained unprecedented access to activist meetings and events, focused mainly around the members of environmental groups Climate Camp and Plane Stupid. The filming is scrappy but insightful, and the real stars of this show are the activists themselves – whether you love them or hate them.

It’s fair to say that most people will agree with the cause, but that isn’t really the issue of the film – it gives barely any time to the problems we are facing environmentally and instead focuses on the activists that we see on the news who have super-glued themselves to banks or set up shop outside a power station. Just Do It follows a number of these radical environmentalists as they embark on their highly organised operations; including a rally where they dress as capitalists (ironically) calling for an increase in carbon trading, an attempted high-jacking of a coal power station, and a mass demo in Copenhagen’s 2009 G20 summit.

Just Do It is certainly biased towards the activists as the film focuses largely on their plight against authority to hold demonstrations. This can get a little grating – as the title suggests, their ‘modern-day outlaw’ identities often results in a somewhat cavalier attitude to their cause, and on many occasions the film seems to belittle those who ‘have never been arrested before’ or those who ‘just recycle’. Yet while this extremism can seem a little, well, extreme, this is the nature of the film’s subject and quite unashamedly so.

Perhaps painting a more uncomfortable picture of a system unwilling to change than environmental problems, probably the most dramatic point of the film is where producer Lauren Simpson gets arrested and the videos are seized – which illuminates what the activists are regularly up against with particular force. Yet at the same time, Just Do It mostly fails in rousing the viewer into action, especially considering that many of the activists are willing to admit their plight is more for individual wellbeing than actually making a change.

Outside of political preferences, Just Do It is an interesting film; it promises to give an insight into the activist community and it fulfils that promise with a unique view of a group of people who are clearly passionate about their cause. Like them or loathe the ‘modern-day outlaws’, the film will propel you into their world – warts and all.

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