Based on a pair of books by Edwin Torres, the film tells the story of Carlito Brigante, (Pacino) an ex-drug kingpin, who is tryng to go straight. After his Cokehead attorney David Kleinfeld (Sean Penn), gets him out of jail on a legal technicallity, all he wants is to live out his life with his girlfriend Gail (Penelope Ann Miller). This decision doesn't sit well with his former associates, who will do whatever it takes, to make him pay for his actions.
De Palma uses the same no holds barred style here, that he used on Scarface, for this gritty epic. Once again, Pacino becomes the character he plays and proves why he's one of this country's best actors. Penn is also very good here as well, as a man held hostage by his own shortcomings, even as he tries to help Brigante. The script from David Koepp (Panic Room, Spider-Man, and Jurassic Park) crackles with an intensity and raw power seldom seen and felt. De Palma capitalizes on the strengthes of the script with pitch perfect direction--Carlito's Way, along with Scarface, and The Untouchables, make for quite a De Palma crime trilogy.
First released as a "movie only" DVD, the collector's edition of the film, has just enough to hold a viewer's interest. "The Making of Carlito's Way" documentary has author Torres, De Palma, and others talking about the film. Sadly though, no cast member is present--and it shows, still documentary producer Laurent Bouzereau does a good job despite those limits. A fairly generous photo and poster gallery tops off the real extras. I would have liked to hear a commentary, or seen a deleted scene or two, to put the disc over the top.
Extra quibbles aside, Carlito's Way, is a must see.