Catch Me if You Can

Dir: Steven Spielberg. 2002. Starring: L. DiCaprio, T. Hanks, C. Walken, M. Sheen, A. Adams, J. Garner. English. Drama.
Catch Me if You Can

Catch Me if You Can is the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr. (DiCaprio) who, by the tender age of seventeen, cut over $2.5 million dollars worth of fraudulent checks and was one of the FBI’s most wanted. Frank travels the globe, taking on such identities as a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and an attorney. Always on his tail is fraud expert Agent Carl Hanratty (Hanks) from the Bureau.

Although a story of a con man on the run from the law, the way this story is told, it comes across more like a fairy tale about the impetuousness of youth. Steven Spielberg’s direction is flawless in maintaining this tone throughout, telling a “crime story” that is amazingly playful. John Williams’ hip retro score and the great momentum of Michael Kahn’s editing add to this happy-go-lucky sort of attitude. The vibrant color palette, fantastic sixties costume and production design, and Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography, all contribute to make up this wonderful “true story of a real fake.”

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Departed) delivers one of his smoothest and most charming characters as the con artist who the media dubs, the “James Bond of the Skies.” He is able to find a perfect balance between being a believable teenager with intelligence, cunning and the knack for deception needed to be one of the most sought after fugitives in American history.

Tom Hanks (Charlie Wilson’s War) is perfectly cast in one of the best roles he has had in the last decade. His take on a mild-mannered, career-driven Boston born federal agent is humorous and heartfelt. The chemistry that plays out between him and DiCaprio is genuine, leading to a great story twist in the final act.

Christopher Walken (True Romance) plays Frank Abagnale Sr. in one his most humanly poignant, gentle and at times, absolutely heart-breaking performances. It was nice to see Walken play a more “normal sort”—a man who finds himself trapped by everyday existence. His life has crumbled around him and his only hope for personal salvation is in the success of his only son.

Amy Adams (Enchanted) is adorable as a naïve young nurse who falls for Abagnale, thinking he is a renowned young doctor looking to dabble in law. She plays the character with such a sweet innocence, that you don’t want her to get burned, but know that she will. Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now) is solid as the young nurse’s famous judge father -- a man of higher education and distinctly southern ideals. Although as cunning as a fox himself, like everyone else, the judge is simply blinded by Frank’s lies told from behind such a winning smile.

Catch Me If You Can ranks up with Raiders of the Lost Ark, Empire of the Sun, and Schindler’s List as the best films in director Steven Spielberg’s career. The film, like Frank Abagnale Jr. himself, is very charismatic, to the point of being almost enchanting.


Catch Me If You Can was nominated for 2 Oscars:  Best Supporting Actor (Christopher Walken) and Best Score.

Posted by:
Seamus Smith
Oct 6, 2008 5:35pm
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