Stephen Spielberg’s film, ‘Catch Me If You Can’ is a comedy-drama crime film based on the real-life story of Frank Abagnale, Jr, a con man and a mastermind who successfully impersonated a pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer and ended up on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list for forging approximately $2 to $4 million dollars in checks all while still a teenager. Tom Hanks plays Carl Hanratty, the agent hot on Frank’s tail who eventually catches him. His primary crime was cheque forgery, becoming so skilful that the FBI eventually turned to him for help. From the title, ‘Catch me if you can’ it is immediately suggested that it is about someone pursuing someone, this is a very effective technique used as it gives an outline of the plot already in just a few words.
Well here’s a summary of the plot. It starts off with a gifted forger’s attempts to stay one step ahead of the law in this comedy-drama from Steven Spielberg. Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a 16-year-old high school student who finds himself emotionally cut adrift… when his mother, Paula (Nathalie Baye), leaves his father, Frank Abagnale Sr. (Christopher Walken) after Frank Sr. falls into arrears with the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). One day at school, Frank Jr. attempts to pass himself off as a substitute teacher, and easily makes the gimmick work. His small-scale success gives Frank some ideas, and he soon discovers bigger and more profitable ways of cheating others, passing himself off as an airline pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer. Along the way, Frank learns how to become a proficient forger, and uses his talent and charm to pass over 2.5 million dollars in phony checks.
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Frank’s increasingly audacious work soon attracts the attention of Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), an FBI agent who is determined to put Frank behind bars. Frank seems to enjoy being chased by Carl and even goes so far as to call Carl on the phone to chat every once in a while. While posing as a doctor, Frank falls in love with Brenda Strong (Amy Adams), a sweet girl. When Frank asks Brenda to marry him, he decides to assume a new identity to impress her father, Roger (Martin Sheen) – who happens to be the District Lawyer of New Orleans, LA. This plot is very straightforward to follow as it is the man who wants more and more and this is the reason why it is also notably believable as this is what most people whether it’s fifty or a hundred years ago it will always remain in people.
Leonardo DiCaprio gives an effective, fascinating performance as Frank Abagnale, Jr. He manages to display the confidence and glamour that would be qualities essential to Abagnale’s real-life performances without ever appearing cold, calculating, or unsympathetic. Tom Hanks is excellent as Hanratty, showing both fierce determination to bring Abagnale to justice and father-like concern for the young con man. Christopher Walken delivers a fine, sympathetic performance as Frank Abagnale, Sr., the foil for his son, who is lowered through the loss of his marriage and his company, while his son’s life seems to keep getting better and better. Bridget Strong, a nurse at the hospital who Frank ends up falling in love with and almost marrying. Her performance is both initially weird and endearing and ultimately heartbreaking as she is confronted by the truth about her husband-to-be.
There are many interesting parts to the film such as the moment when Carl and Frank were together in one room and Carl had his man right in front of him but Frank managed to escape. The opening credits were also very special as they gave a brief outline of the film without dialogue. It opens with a title sequence that combines the chase motif with an aura of playfulness and excitement. Designed by Olivier Kuntzel and Florence Deygas for Nexus Productions, the sequence is a brightly coloured animation of geometrically stylized figures chasing one another through geometrically stylized scenery. The sequence moves through a series of locations, from airport to road, then poolside bar, a hospital, a library and a wedding party, the colour scheme changing with each new setting. Little yellow arrows point to the silhouetted figures representing Frank and Hanratty so that their progress can be tracked as the Frank figure subtly shifts identity from an aeroplane pilot to doctor and so forth.
The figure of Hanratty gets ever closer as the sequence unfolds until they finally share a frame during the producer credit. A fade-out leaves the end of the tale opens, upholding the suspense of the main film. However, I did feel as if it was longer than necessary which made me lose confidence in the film but that was soon turned around. While the story of Frank Abagnale, Jr. is fascinating and the performances are good, the film is a bit too long for its own good. At times the pace felt too slow and it almost lost my interest. This is one of the film’s few flaws. Overall, it is an enjoyable picture that the entire family can see that offers an interesting view into the life of a con man. I urge you to go and see this film-it’s marvellous. This film is structured to perfection and I recommend that you see it whether it’s with your family or not it will certainly be a favourite in the house.