Catch Me If You Can
Facts and Figures
Run time: 141 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 25th December 2002
Box Office USA: $164.4M
Box Office Worldwide: $351.1M
Distributed by: DreamWorks SKG
Production compaines: DreamWorks SKG
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Fresh: 186 Rotten: 8
IMDB: 8.0 / 10
Catch Me If You Can Review
So goes Catch Me If You Can, Steven Spielberg's second film of the year after the darker, more imaginative Minority Report. The director's cat-and-mouse game draws from Abagnale's autobiography and begins with the criminal's capture at the hands of FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks). The film then slowly backtracks six years to explain both how and why these two men wound up at this point. Part of it has to do with Frank's father (Christopher Walken), a smooth-as-silk seller with tax troubles. But most of it has to do with Frank's need to test his wits against inferior playmates.
Catch Me can be giddy, as Spielberg and screenwriter Jeff Nathanson easily sweep us up in Frank's tapestry of lies. DiCaprio - fully developed in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York - actually immatures for the Abagnale role, and it works. The younger Frank appears, the better the film works. His character is perceptive, quick on his feet, and unafraid to test his courage. He has confidence, know-how and - apparently - all the time in the world. It makes for a dangerous combination.
Hanks, on the other hand, isn't sure whether to play Hanratty as a faceless pursuer or a buttoned-down Joe Friday. Catch Me gives us little information about the G-Man, while Frank's history is explored in depth - a device that helps us side with the hunted, not the hunter.
With its inventive story, eclectic cast, and authentic period feel, Catch Me should fly by but doesn't. Spielberg's been handed a unique life story that bounces around so quickly on its own power, it begs to be told in 100 minutes. Instead, the introspective storyteller drags the film out to a bloated 140 minutes with a distracting subplot surrounding Frank's incessant desire to reunite his divorced parents. As part of said subplot, Walken does his finest Walken, which always brings a smile. It's just not enough to keep us engaged, and these asides become the least believable element of an already far-fetched tale. When tripped up by Frank's familial issues, Catch Me allows the playful spirit of the chase to slip away, much like Frank slips through Carl's fingers.
A second DVD on this gem of a two-disc set offers a number of behind-the-scenes vignettes, notably including several interviews with the real Frank Abagnale. (Abagnale notes a fourth career he had -- sociology professor at Brigham Young University, after his work as a New Orleans attorney -- and that he served full prison sentences in France and Sweden.)