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Customer Review

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Illustrates the Cons of Being a Con., January 3, 2003
While I looked forward to seeing this movie, I was surprised at just how well it was done. DiCaprio and Hanks both give very good performances, but what hit it out of the ballpark for me was capturing the mood of both the era and the chase.
Films and books have an interesting way of turning outlaws into charming folk heroes. This is one of those films that realistically bucks that notion. It shows the slick charm and finesse that Frank Abagnale Jr (Leonardo DiCaprio) used to sneak onto airlines and into prolific jobs, but it also shows the emotional destruction ---both his as well as his friends' and family's--- that comes with living on the run. Abagnale did live lavishly at times, but always had the anxiety of looking over his shoulder and keeping his stories straight.
We also see Abagnale grow up witnessing his father (Christopher Walken) attempting less successful scams, thus planting the seed for Jr's career.
We also get a nice overview of how bank criminals committed bank check fraud before the "personal computer" era, how such crooks were able to evade quick detection of the checks they forged, and how one person's charm versus another's gullible nature can be a deceptive weapon.
All in all, this film does a great job showing why even a successful con-artist is not so successful. This film humanizes the con-artist without making us feel pity for him. The lack of pity for the scammer is partly due to the character of Hanratty (Tom Hanks), who makes numerous personal sacrifices (including working in a department of the FBI that his peers judge as tedious). When you see Hanratty getting little thanks and dire frustration while playing by the rules, you want to see Frank Jr get busted.
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Location: Walnut, Ca USA

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