Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Behind the camera (17 mins). Cast Me
If You Can (28 mins). Scoring (5 mins). Frank Abagnale: Between
Reality And Fiction (15 mins). The FBI Perspective (7 mins). In
Closing (4 mins).
BY THE age of 21, Frank W Abagnale had worked as a doctor, a
lawyer and as a co-pilot for a major airline, spending
millions and travelling around the world. He was also one of the
most sought after masters of deception in America, as well as
a brilliant forger.
By the time of his capture, in 1969, he had written $2.5 million
worth of bad cheques and was virtually a celebrity - so it is
little wonder, then, that the life of this James Bond of
the skies has formed the inspiration for the latest Steven
Spielberg movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.
Catch Me If You Can is the directors lightest film in years,
a joyous romp through 1960s America that succeeds because of the
sheer audacity of its premise, as well as the quality of its performances.
DiCaprio has seldom been better, while the likes of Hanks and
Christopher Walken, in less showier roles, lend some excellent
Yet it is the breezy style of proceedings, as well as the tongue-in-cheek
manner of the deceptions, which help to make the film such an
unqualified success, making it easy to see why so many people
were seduced by this slick conman.
Abagnale operated at a time when finger-printing and Big Brother-style
security cameras were virtually non-existent, slipping from East
Coast to West Coast America with relative ease. His fingerprints
were the trail of dud cheques that he left in his wake, yet his
good looks and golden tongue meant that he could talk his way
in to (or out of) most situations.
Yet the relish with which he carried out his cons was borne out
of a troubled youth - as, at the age of 16, he was forced to choose
between his parents and ran away, determined to reunite his family.
It is here that the line between truth and fiction becomes somewhat
blurry, as, on-screen, the loneliness and sense of desperation
that follows, brings him closer to the FBI agent chasing him,
played by Hanks.
Abagnale makes a point of calling his pursuer each Christmas
Eve - having previously given him the slip when it would have
been easier to have got caught - and the two develop a begrudging
respect; so much so, that by the time Abagnale had served five
years of a 12-year sentence, the agent (named Carl Hanratty on-screen/Joe
Shaye in real-life) persuaded the FBI to take him on in their
cheque forgery department (under their custody).
The chemistry between DiCaprio and Hanks is an important factor
in the films success, as is the interplay between the former
and his struggling father (played in exemplary fashion by Walken).
Yet it is credit to Spielberg that he refrains from employing
too much sentimentalism until late in the movie, preferring instead
to keep things lively from the start (as in the glorious titles
sequence, which harks back to films such as The Pink Panther).
Several sequences stand out, such as a delightfully wayward seduction
involving Alias star, Jennifer Garner, or DiCaprios stint
as a doctor, but all are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
In real-life, Abagnale has since issued a statement stressing
that many events in the film are exaggerated and over-dramatised,
although he remains honoured that the combined talents
of Spielberg and co wanted to make a film inspired by the events
of his life.
Yet there is little doubt that the events depicted, however far
from the truth at times, are remarkable and the film is to be
applauded on many levels.
It may ultimately outstay its welcome, but it is like a breath
of fresh air amid the current crop of heavier Oscar contenders.
For the record, Abagnale has since become a leading authority
on forgery, embezzlement and secure documents and is a multi-millionaire.
Who says crime doesnt pay?