Inspired by the extraordinary true story of a brilliant young master of deception and the FBI agent hot on his trail, Catch Me If You Can stars Oscar nominee Leonardo DiCaprio and two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks in one of the year's most acclaimed hits!
From three-time Oscar winning director Steven Spielberg, Catch Me If You Can follows Frank W. Abagnale, Jr. as he successfully passes himself off as a pilot, a lawyer and a doctor-all before his 21st birthday! Joel Siegel of Good Morning America declares, "Movies don't get much more fun than this!" while The Associated Press hails this incredible tale as "the most flat-out-fun movie of the year!"
Based on the autobiography of real-life con artist Frank Abagnale, 'Catch Me If You Can' is a whimsical and spirited production with a cold, sad dose of reality at the center. As we follow the teenage Frank, played with boyish innocence and impulsiveness by Leonardo DiCaprio, through his journey of check fraud, love, and a desire for success, we become part of the fun and glamor of living the criminal life. The level of confidence required to convince others of something unreal, of fooling strangers at their own game, is almost admirable in its depiction, while also laughable in its naïveté. This is to the credit of DiCaprio's fantastic performance of turning a 17-year-old kid's dishonest exploits into an adventure we amazingly find ourselves championing. We, too, are suckered by Frank's charms, believing who he pretends to be, yet always aware of the deception, that we are in fact being swindled.
This is part of the seduction and entertainment value to be had in Steven Spielberg's 2002 dramedy. We think it funny and enjoyable seeing someone else duped into doing or believing something, sort of like watching strangers being robbed of their money when playing "three-card Monte." Frank uses similar tactics for deceiving people, the art of distraction for creating the illusion and giving himself a winning chance, which he encapsulates in his analogy of the Yankee's success. Spielberg portrays the kid's escapades in a very playful and childlike manner, making it all seem like a fantasy game that Frank slowly succumbs to and starts to believe is real. Janusz Kaminski's cinematography captures this sentiment with a dreamy soft focus and a kaleidoscope of quixotic pastel colors, making Frank's worldview slightly distorted.
Meanwhile, Tom Hanks's character, FBI agent Carl Hanratty, is shown with lots of steely blues, accurate primaries, and mostly in sharp focus — or at least, sharper than Frank's imaginary life. Hank's presence is that cold reality the kid must be held accountable to eventually, a reminder of the consequences of his deception and desire for an illusory existence. On a more interesting level, the relationship Frank and Hanratty share provides each of them a reason to live, filling an emptiness the both would rather not face or admit. When the bank-fraud agent tells the young, naïve con artist the kid has no one else to talk on Christmas Eve, we see a sympathetic kinship neither is yet aware of. Hanratty spends his holidays just as alone as Frank does, turning this comedic cat-and-mouse chase into a poignant tale of broken homes and longing for familial love.
It's another beauty behind Jeff Nathanson's script. Hanratty is a parent without a child, and Frank is a child without a parent. Granted, Frank's father (Christopher Walken turning in a magnificent performance) is a good man who's never done anything significantly damaging to his son, but he's also seen as providing very little parental guidance, aside from teaching Frank the necklace trick. At one point, a heartfelt moment between the two inside a bar exposes Frank's desire to be reprimanded, demanding for a father in his life while also seeking approval for his talent. That approval eventually comes in a touching conclusion, which Spielberg pulls off with aplomb. Looking back at the film's title, we can see the emotional connotation along with the literal reference to the plot, and it's something that seems to apply to both Frank and Agent Hanratty equally.
Money and the ability to provide for one's family appear to be at the root of Frank Abagnale's dilemma and willingness to commit fraud. And this aspect of the film is largely its success, but Frank's ability to easily and effectively deceive others opens another complex issue, if not at least mildly hint at it. The kid's actions expose the nature of uniforms, as well as the social status and confidence that come attached to them. Frank is able to get away with his escapade because of our ready trust of what those things uniforms imply. Of course, when it comes to actually performing the actions associated with those roles, the illusion is suddenly over. It makes for some great comedic moments, but it also adds another layer to a very entertaining film. It may not rank as one of Spielberg's best, but it's a highly enjoyable, well-executed, and lighthearted tale nevertheless.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Paramount Home Entertainment brings 'Catch Me If You Can' on a Region Free, BD50 disc inside an eco-lite keepcase with new, less-attractive cover art. At startup, the disc goes straight to an animated main menu with music.
'Catch Me' comes out running with a fantastic 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode which remains true to the creative intentions of cinematographer Janusz Kaminski. Soft focus is often used to make certain sequences seem magical and dreamy, but fine object details endure with sharp visibility in the background. Facial complexions appear natural, and close-ups are revealing with lifelike textures. Some scenes also look slightly antiquated, with a very light amber hue, which can affect skin tones and the overall picture but never takes away from the film's enjoyment. Clarity and details persist in poorly-lit interiors, and a thin layer of grain is visible during these moments.
Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the palette is somewhat affected by Kaminski's photography, creating a very interesting, weirdly metallic effect. Secondary pastel hues seem to take the biggest hit though they remain quite attractive throughout. Primaries, on the other hand, are quite colorful and animated. Contrast is deliberately overblown and warmer than normal, yet whites are vibrant and crisp. The entire image is comfortably bright and energetic. Black levels, however, waver some, depending on the scene. Sometimes suits and other articles of clothing are true and accurate, but shadows and certain sequences are slightly faded and a tad murky. In the end, this all seems as part of the intentions of the filmmakers, and this high-def transfer offers a beautiful image.
Accompanying the excellent video is an equally excellent DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The front-heavy presentation comes with a wide and spacious soundstage. Channel separation is well-balanced with plenty of convincing off-screen activity, and dialogue reproduction is clear and precise in the center. Dynamic range is extensive, with brilliant clarity and distinction between a variety of subtle sounds, while acoustic details are full of warmth and fidelity. LFE isn't particularly aggressive, but then again, it really needn't be for a comedy drama. The low-end is refined and generally reserved for the music, providing depth and weight to the lossless mix.
Rear activity is noticeably light and perhaps a bit wanting. Those few times when discrete effects are employed, panning is flawless and directionality can be enveloping. For a majority of the time, however, there's not much going on in the surrounds. John Williams' spirited jazz score does far better by lightly bleeding into the sides and extending the soundfield, filling the room with an upbeat feel. All in all, the high-rez track is not the sort to test one's system, but it's a fantastic listen nonetheless, especially with Williams' music as the centerpiece.
Told in an amusing, whimsical, and playful manner, 'Catch Me If You Can' is a wonderful dramedy encompassing a variety of poignant themes. Directed by Steven Spielberg, Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a child con artist creating a fiction for himself to escape a heartbreaking reality, with Tom Hanks as the FBI Agent pursuing him while also dealing with issues of his own. The Blu-ray arrives with an excellent audio and video presentation that easily surpasses previous versions, but ports over the same collection of supplements as the two-disc DVD. In the end, the overall package is fantastic, sure to satisfy every fan out there. Recommended.