CATCH ME IF YOU CAN directed by Steven Spielberg, written by Jeff Nathanson from the book by Frank Abagnale Jr., produced by Spielberg and Walter F. Parkes, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks and Christopher Walken. A Dreamworks release. 140 minutes. Opens Wednesday (December 25). Rating: NNNNN Rating: NNNNN
everybody runs. it's the tagline for Minority Report, but it works just as well for Catch Me If You Can, Steven Spielberg's second movie in a year. He began his career with a chase film called Duel, and it may be that being chased -- by a truck, Nazis, feds or velociraptors -- is what drives Spielberg's nightmares and narrative juices.
Catch Me If You Can draws on the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., a teenage con man who assumed the identities of an airline pilot, a doctor and a lawyer while forging cheques worth over a million. On his tail is an FBI agent played to humourless perfection by Tom Hanks.
Spielberg directs with consummate skill, free from the maudlin missteps that sometimes trouble his movies. Casting Leonardo DiCaprio as the smooth man-child is perfect. It plays not only to the actor's strengths, but to nuances in his public image as well. The same holds for Hanks, and for Christopher Walken as Abagnale Sr.
As if liberated from the need to make a big statement, Spielberg swoops through this story like the airy, mid-60s pop songs that accompany it. And he bathes his actors and period sets in warm light flares and halos. You could almost forget the Spielbergian core here of a boy yearning for the protection of an unreliable parent.
Catch Me If You Can is light and deft enough to be called Spielberg's North By Northwest. In a season of heavyweight movies all straining to make an impression, this is likely the most fun you'll have in the cinema all month.