DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg
May Contain Spoilers!
Catch Me If You Can embodies everything that was Spielberg of the early 2000’s. He was past the flippancy of Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park (1993), and was now bathing in his post Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Schindler’s List (1993) aura. He was an Oscar-winning director and was here to tell stories. But this was also the Tom Hanks collaboration period. They had worked together on Saving Private Ryan (1998), The Terminal (2002) and this, let alone the stunning HBO series, Band Of Brothers (1999).
2002 also saw a revival of the wavering career of Leonardo Dicarpio, who returned to grace with this film and Martin Scorsese’s, Gangs Of New York (2003). So, this was almost a zeiqgist movie, the coming together of a series of elements and that’s pretty much what it feels like.
This is the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., who through various happenstance becomes a successful con artist, and manages to become a doctor, lawyer and a Pan Am pilot, no wonder the airline went bust! Spielberg may be many things, but a bad film maker he isn’t. Though that doesn’t necessarily equate to him constantly making great films either. In the hands of most directors, this would have been nothing more than a movie of the week, may be on HBO, but here, this is a theatrical production.
But it’s quite dull in parts and does little to propel the material from the page, let alone the screen. It’s a procedural piece, examining how this teenage boy pulled of such an audacious campaign, and we’re supposed to be enthralled by the cat and mouse chase between Abagnale and FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), but I’m not. Don’t get me wrong, Dicarpio plays his part well, and Hanks is first-rate, but the story isn’t. It’s interesting and Spielberg goes to great lengths, not least with the brilliant opening credit sequence, to make more of the material than is really here, but in the end, it’s an uphill struggle which I doubt can ever work.
So, it’s not a bad film and it is an interesting story, expertly brought to the screen by Spielberg and his team, but in the end, there’s just not enough here to justify the hype or the scale of the production.