Leonardo Di Caprio more than rises to the occasion by capturing the craziness, combustive energy, and genius of the young Howard Hughes. I will never say another ill word about his acting abilities.
Libertarians will also enjoy the film's two-fisted assault on big government bureaucracy, rent-seeking, and demagogic politicians. Alan Alda (always better as the villain) gives a deliciously slimy performance as Senator Ralph Owen Brewster. Brewster is shown working with Juan Trippe (played by Alec Baldwin), the smug, politically-connected president of Pan American Airlines, to win enactment of a"CAB bill" which would freeze Hughes out of Trans-Atlantic competition.
As was probably Scorcese's intention, the painstaking attention to Hughes's many phobias has the effect of making his main character more sympathetic. It completes the picture of a visionary who struggles and triumphs over adversity.
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