This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Conor Brownell’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I'm constantly puzzled by the choice in some movies to begin the movie with some sort of retrospective, as Catch Me If You Can does. Sometimes, showing the person a character becomes can increase the film's tension (I mean, Citizen Kane springs to mind), but it has to be done well. Showing that Frank got caught (even if he does end up escaping yet again) simply removed a lot of dramatic tension, for me, by removing a large percentage of the film's possible outcomes.
I feel that the tone is simply off here. Don't get me wrong, it has a handful of thrilling scenes, Frank and Carl's first meeting foremost among them. Every time Frank has to figure out a new con on the fly, this film sings and occasionally has a feeling of dread -- much like Wolf of Wall Street -- as you watch somebody commit horrible mistakes. But the lack of consequences for Frank or the people around him undermines the emotional feeling that the movie is going for. Ultimately, I felt that Spielberg wanted a touching movie instead of a tense one (the "you have nobody else to call!" line springs to mind, as do the repeated Christmas conversations). Somehow, Leo's character still felt slightly unmoored in this movie instead of each action being the result of a conflicted inner life.