Opens January 31, Cert 12A, 142 mins
After Spielberg’s giant strides towards darker intelligence in Minority Report, this is a relapse. A misconceived ‘comedy-thriller’, it’s long, dreary and, for a tale about a conman, laughably sanitised. Though the story eschews sugary family values, they’re tediously shoehorned in.
Leonardo DiCaprio appeases any fanbase he might’ve challenged via Scorsese by playing likeable fraudster Frank Abagnale, on whose autobiography this is based. In the late ’60s, Frank poses as a pilot, doctor and lawyer, all before his 21st birthday. Inspired by his father (Christopher Walken), he survives on quick wits (though you wouldn’t know it from DiCaprio’s listless form). FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks, working hard) vows to bring him down.
Chronologically a mess, this sexless plodder tries to surf on breezy anecdotes about the rogue (much like Ted Demme’s Blow). The period detail’s groovy, but Spielberg drenches it in a gushing golden glow. Why Frank falls for a dense, servile girl (Amy Adams) is barely examined. Martin Sheen and Nathalie Baye paper over cracks. It never catches fire.