Steven Spielberg does it again with "Catch Me If You Can," a comedic thriller inspired by the real "adventures" of Frank Abagnale and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks and Christopher Walken.
This masterpiece, matching the excellence, comedy and suspense of last year's "Ocean's 11," follows Frank from his sixteenth birthday to his arrest several years later, after forging over $4 million in checks around the world and posing as a doctor, lawyer and airline pilot. He is pursued by FBI Agent Joe Shaye, who gets his fingers around Frank many times before actually catching him.
Though in terms of dramatic impact "Catch Me If You Can" does not scream Oscar, it is one of the best movies of the years. It is somewhat funny, somewhat dramatic, but whatever it is, it is definitely entertaining. From beginning to end - all 140 minutes of it - "Catch Me" moves at a consistently fun pace, following the typical consistency of a Spielberg film. In fact, this is Spielberg's second excellent picture of the year, after the Tom Cruise-starring "Minority Report."
The acting, as expected, is top notch. Tom Hanks, in a supporting role this time, is at his usual level, which is nearly benchmark. He brings incredible depth to a character that in many movies would not have much, a hardened FBI Agent trying to catch our main hero, our "hero."
Leonardo DiCaprio, who does not even pretend to share the stage with Hanks, is superb. He is one of the most underrated actors of the last decade, churning out consistently good performances while being labeled as nothing more than a "pretty boy." I remember saying I hated him at the peak of his career - "Titanic" - in which all of the girls were swooning over him, but now, having grown out of my immature stage, I have come to appreciate just how talented an actor he is. In "Catch Me If You Can," he gives a great performance - his second in the last week ("Gangs of New York").
But with Spielberg films, the acting is never a problem. In fact, there is usually very little wrong, and it's the same story here. With the exception of a few sound problems due to the projector, "Catch Me" is nearly flawless. It is utterly entertaining and captivating, with very few slow parts and many funny moments. It has comedy, drama, suspense, romance - it covers every genre except for those looking for a shoot-em-up action movie.
"Catch Me If You Can" is a high quality, entertaining film from the consistent master of cinema, Steven Spielberg. If the Academy is looking for a more lighthearted nomination, this one should not be overlooked.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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