Anthony's Film Review

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Great script, memorable acting, and an excellent director bring to life an amazing true story...

I like biographical films because I get a chance to see people reach a goal despite whatever gets in the way. It's more interesting when the biographical pic is about someone I never heard of. Take, for example, Frank Abagnale Jr., in Catch Me If You Can. Here is someone I never heard of, but when a relative who saw the film explained who he was, it got me interested. It was even more interesting to know that this film was based on the book by Frank Abagnale Jr., himself.

The film starts with Abagnale on a plane with FBI agent Carl Hanratty after he is caught. The majority of the film chronicles the series of cons Abagnale pulled off before his arrest. Abagnale is the only child to Abagnale Sr. and his French wife. The parents, sadly, are getting divorced, and Abagnale wants to get them back together as well as help his father financially. Eventually, Abagnale finds a way. We first see him portraying a teacher at school, and as the real teacher walks in, he humiliates her. This scene shows how good Abagnale is with putting on a false identity without anyone else questioning.

Eventually, he gets a pilot's uniform and manages to get employment at PanAm, and by peeling off the PanAm labels off model PanAm airplanes plus some meticulous forgery, he is able to write himself some checks that go into his checking account, all without the banks suspecting the checks to be complete fakes. And though he has a series of jobs without real credentials, Abagnale would use this ruse again later on when he convinces a high school that he is recruiting young girls to be stewardesses as part of an internship.

As clever as he is, Abagnale still has the FBI already on his tail. And this con man is not someone they have to chase a long time before meeting face to face. Carl Hanratty does succeed in facing Abagnale in a hotel room. But as Hanratty discovers, Abagnale is smooth and able to put on a show without hesitation, managing to convince Hanratty that he's a Secret Service agent on the hunt. Hanratty accepts Abagnale's wallet to look for ID before Abagnale walks out, then discovers that the wallet has no real identification whatsoever. Now the real cat-and-mouse chase begins.

Abagnale also poses as a lawyer and a doctor and amazingly does not get caught. As a lawyer, Abagnale in one scene acts as if he is in the middle of a trial when there is only the judge present for something else. And as a doctor, Abagnale forges a Harvard medical degree so well that he is easily hired to work at a hospital. Furthermore, Abagnale in another scene does not do any clinical work but rather acts with authority towards two doctors in training. Abagnale simply asks one doctor what his diagnosis is, then says to the other, "Do you concur?" That's really it.

The whole story is thrilling and very amazing to see, especially with Leonardo DiCaprio in the role of Abagnale, Jr. Christopher Walken as the father does a fine job along with Tom Hanks as Hanratty. I will also admit that the ending is very nice and quite unexpected, the kind that actually brings a wide smile to the audience's face. But the one who deserves real credit for the film as a whole is Steven Spielburg. He puts the whole thing together into an exciting ride all the way through. I think the real Frank Abagnale Jr., is pleased with this film. It proves that even the most sneaky crook could be likable and charming.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Catch Me If You Can, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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