‘Sometimes it’s easier living a lie.’
Uniforms give you power. They turn you visible. They make you a different man. They can be an instrument for you, can become your identity. They might even bring you justice. And money. Lots and lots of money.
‘Catch me if you can’ embodies a composition of various layers of a person’s personality. Based on a true story, Steven Spielberg presents to us the James Bond of the air versus the FBI. As his story ranks in 86th place on IMDB’s list of top films, Frank Abagnale Jr. truly made an impression. Not only on us viewers, but also on the FBI.
Folowing the divorce of his parents, Frank Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio) starts building a matrix of false identities around himself – none of which reveal the fact that he is 16 years old, has no money and has never been to medical, law or pilot school. He runs away in every possible way. False bank cheques become his new best friends and the thrill of the chase turn into his addiction.
This film lives from two timelines. Every time, Agent Carl Hanaratty (Tom Hanks) gets one step closer in his personal chase of a lifetime, we get a flash forward. To a prison in France. Frank looking nothing like himself. Locked away. To the airplane that delivers Frank into a prison in the United States of America. To the reality in which Frank Abagnale Senior is dead.
Frank’s motivation for all this movement against the law – pretending to be an airline captain without even knowing his way around the aiport and claiming to be a Doctor without being able to stand the sight of blood – appears to be an attempt to claim justice for his father. Frank Junior looks at his father as an unsung hero. A hero from whom society took everything away.
We become witnesses to the story of a teenager who is not only struggling to fill in a gap, but also a story of someone who is not accepting the loneliness that he build around him. Frank is always one step ahead – until the day the two timelines collide. When the agent traps him, Frank chooses to stay in France. However, when the day comes that Carl catches him, Frank is unsuprised and returns to the US with him – as a man without freedom.
Luck however, is still with Frank.
Over the years of the chase, we cannot help but observe a forming bond between the agent and the criminal. It’s a call on Christmas that reveals how lonely a teenager on the run can be. Frank is able to help ‘his’ agent out with a case of financial crime-on Christmas day – when Carl pays him a visit. Shortly after that, the ultimate financial criminal of all time gets taken out of prison and placed within the rows of the FBI. No one is chasing after Frank Abagnale Junior anymore. The game is over. The thrill is gone.
‘Catch me if you can’ confronts the viewer with a success driven society and introduces an obscure protection mechanism of a teenager whose idols are his father and ‘The Flash’, a comic hero. And it all started with the aeroplane on Frank’s wallpaper and a pilot walking by…