Catch Me If You Can
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An FBI agent (Hanks) tracks down and catches a young con artist (DiCaprio) who successfully impersonated an airline pilot, doctor, assistant attorney general and history professor, cashing more than $2.5 million in fraudulent checks in 26 countries.
An enormously entertaining (if somewhat shallow) affair from blockbuster director Steven Spielberg. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Frank Abagnale, Jr., a dazzling young con man who spent four years impersonating an airline pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer--all before he turned 21. All the while he's pursued by a dedicated FBI agent named Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), whose dogged determination stays one step behind Abagnale's spontaneous wits. Both DiCaprio and Hanks turn in enjoyable performances and the movie has a bouncy rhythm that keeps it zipping along. However, it never gets under the surface of Frank's drive to lose himself in other identities, other than a simplistic desire to please his father (Christopher Walken, excellent as always), nor does it explore the complex mechanics of fraud with any depth. By the movie's end, it feels like one of Frank's pilot uniforms--appearance without substance. --Bret Fetzer
- "Catch Me if You Can": Behind the Camera
- Cast Me if You Can: The Casting of the Film
- Scoring "Catch Me if You Can"
- Frank Abagnale: Between Reality and Fiction
- The FBI Perspective
- "Catch Me if You Can": In Closing
- Photo galleries
- Production notes
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I'm not going to rehash the awesome plot (truth!), great screenplay, and incredible acting, because that's all over this page. But my opinion:
There's more substance they could have added. That's why I rated 9 and not 10. But standing on its own, this movie is so well-done.
It doesn't stick to the true story 100%. The one point I don't like is that he gets engaged to a girl, when in reality it was a simpler relationship.
It could have been done equally well as a darker drama, or a longer adventure. Spielberg chose to focus on these few years of Abagnall's life so there automatically is a certain lightness that comes from lacking the bigger picture. But in its own merit, this movie is almost fun to watch. Despite the constant danger of discovery and deception, Frank lives optimistically and hopefully. That makes this movie easy to want to return to.
Altogether, I loved this film.
Frank Abagnale has been married for 26 years, he has three sons and lives a quiet life in the Midwest. Since his release from prison in 1974, Frank has helped the FBI capture some of the world’s most elusive check forgers, counterfeiters, and is considered one of the world’s top experts on bank fraud and forgery.
Frank has designed many of the secure checks that banks and Fortune 500 companies use every day. For his services, these companies pay Frank Abagnale millions of dollars per year. Frank and Carl (the FBI official who was tasked with pursuing him) remain close friends to this day.
Frank is chased by the FBI throughout the movie, but his conflicts are all internal: the excitement of lying and the longing to be honest; the joy of creativity and the loneliness of living a lie.
(Frank and Agent Handratty, both alone in the dark on Christmas Eve, when Frank tells him honestly where he is, and Handratty says, "you don't have anyone else to call.")
People watch this movie and say they loved it--but not because it was any good! Those people are wrong. This is one of the best movies ever made. Every performance is filled with charm and sincerity. The score is lively and clever but never manipulative. The cinematography is drop dead gorgeous. This movie is hosed down in light and color. It's like light and color making out for two and a half hours.
Mostly, the power of this movie comes from the fact that Frank grows up while pretending to be a grownup, so all his intense coming-of-age moments are tinged with nostalgia even as he's experiencing them for the first time. No one is surprised that Spielberg does that with perfect sincerity. You might be surprised that he also makes it funny.
Also, that era in the sixties that we all know was corrupt and broken inside, just underneath its veneer of side parts and big cars? That's put across with honesty, yet without any cynicism or irony. That a movie could feel so lighthearted while doing all that is practically miraculous.