Mission Without Permission

Mission Without Permission


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

In a PC world, where unattached nouns require adjectival chaperones, such as "squeaky" and "nice", how do you equate teenagers robbing a bank with "cool"?

It might be a bad thing, but they're doing it for a good cause. Means justifying ends? No way!

Copy picture

Scriptwriters Michael Brandt and Derek Haas get round this awkward moral dilemma with an ingenious, cheaty trick. No need to discuss it here, as plot divulgence is high on a film critic's list of So Much But No More.

Maddy (Kristen Stewart), Gus (Max Thieriot) and Austin (Corbin Bleu) are best buds. She's a climber like her dad (Sam Robards). Gus is a computer nut and Austin an aspiring cinematographer.

When Maddy's dad falls down one day and wakes up in hospital paralysed, her mum (Jennifer Beals) finds out that there is treatment for his condition in Europe, but it costs $250,000. No one has that kind of money. No one except the bank.

Mission Without Permission lacks the courage of its convictions. Mindful of its responsibilities and to ensure a PG certificate, director Bart Freundlich plays it safe when he should have been edgy and dangerous.

The bank employees do comic turns, so they don't appear threatening. James Le Gros, as head of security, goes so far over the top he wins a nomination for the campest performance of the year.

The teenagers are resourceful, the acting well judged and convincing, the thrills carefully handled to comply with Health and Safety. Unlike the more inventive Spy Kids and Agent Cody Banks, laughs are in short supply. Stewart, in particular, is so dedicated in portraying Maddy as a serious, responsible person, she cannot loosen up. Bleu is better.

Despite honourable intentions and certified family values, the film is short on surprises. Teen thrillers don't have to stick to the rules. Only grown ups like that.

Reviewed on: 20 Nov 2004
Share this with others on...
Teens plan a bank raid for cash to help a sick parent.
Amazon link

Director: Bart Freundlich

Writer: Michael Brandt, Derek Haas

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Max Thieriot, Corbin Bleu, Jennifer Beals, Sam Robards, John Carroll Lynch, James Le Gros

Year: 2004

Runtime: 87 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US/Germany


Search database:

If you like this, try:

Spy Kids