One thing you can be sure of in life is that Tom Hanks will always turn in a solid effort. It doesn’t matter how good or bad the piece is, he’s always a solid draw for an otherwise underwhelming project. Catch Me If You Can certainly isn’t such a piece, but his inclusion certainly helps alongside the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Sheen, and Christopher Walken. Such a cast can only come together under the watchful eye of a big-name titan, someone so reliable that, regardless of quality, audiences would lap the film up without a care in the world. I suppose that’s why they brought Steven Spielberg into the mix, he spun garbage with Ready Player One, his name is one of the all-time biggest box office draws, but it’s not needed for this rather comfortable, predictable drama.
Following the fairly true story of teen criminal Frank Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio), Catch Me If You Can documents his rise to infamy, his crimes, and his eventual, inevitable fall into the hands of the law. It’s rather impressive to see the imposter syndrome he managed to inflict on so many. His handiwork and confidence duped some of the greatest minds in the FBI, detective agencies globally, and one Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks). The cat and mouse game begins, and with two likeable leads towing the rather flat, bland direction, it’s no surprise that Catch Me If You Can becomes a moderately enjoyable, strangely lengthy piece.
Hanks and DiCaprio have some great chemistry with one another, and although they spend a good chunk of the film apart, their inconsistent phone calls and pen-pal style relationship is relatively well-explained and adapted into the narrative. Spielberg’s direction offers little in the way of unique style or authorial voice, but it rarely does in the latter days of his career. He instead focuses in wholly on the leading men, who offer up solid work, and ultimately perform to the standards we expect from two of the finest in the business. But the film does leave me wanting more, far more than it delivers. Gaping big holes in the story, its progression, and a general disconnect between pacing and audience makes for a bizarre feeling of never quite getting a hook into the story.
Whilst the story is relatively interesting, Catch Me If You Can suffers under its rather usual, jagged, Hollywood approach. The tried and tested biopic formula makes yet another appearance in this sleek Spielberg spectacle. It’s not bad, the story it looks to tell is held together nicely by two tremendous leading performances, but ultimately, it flags up many of the main issues with this facet of filmmaking. Solid stuff, that’s to be expected, but we should expect more from three individuals who have been lauded with praise for nearly their entire careers.