on June 8, 2003
Carlito Brigante (Al Pacino) is an ex-drug lord that has recently been released early from a 30-year sentence because his lawyer, Kleinfeld (Sean Penn), found a loophole. Now that he's out and aging he has decided to retire from the criminal world and become a legitimate business man, pursuing a dream to escape New York and move to the Caribbean where a role in a business venture awaits him. However, Carlito's past hasn't given him permission to let it go. He has to many friends, pseudo-friends, and enemies to get away that easily.
But ironically it is his friendship with the man that freed him, Kleinfeld, that ends up causing him the most trouble; Kleinfeld is a thieving cocaine addict who has betrayed too many people. Not knowing the best way to get himself out of the trouble, he enlists Carlito to help him, who does against the advice of his renewed love interest, Gail (Penelope Ann Miller), who was going to escape to the Caribbean with him. Kleinfeld screws things up and now he and Carlito are wanted men. Kleinfeld doesn't really have a chance, but Carlito does. But there are a lot of people that don't want him to leave town and are willing to risk quite a bit to prevent it.
Somewhat following the Godfather tradition, Al Pacino delivers a great performance in this film. But the even better performer is Sean Penn. Penn is, as always, a very convincing dopehead. He is a great character actor, especially when the character is a druggy. Also good is John Leguizamo whose role as Benny Blanco turns out to be of primary importance.
The story is convincing, well-written, and makes logical sense. You find yourself continually rooting for Carlito to truly pursue his dream and get out of Dodge, but it is repeatedly delayed and as the movie continues you begin to realize that Carlito's chances of leaving for the Caribbean are dwindling. Apparently connections to the underworld of crime are difficult to kill, which is good reason not to get involved in the first place, but the movie begins with Carlito having already been involved so now he just has to try to escape.
Overall, the movie is entertaining. There is a bit of nudity, limited to women's breasts and semi-discrete sex scenes, so if that is a concern you may want to skip it. Perhaps the producer and casting agent did so intentionally to build off his Godfather fame, but Al Pacino is great in this role, not surprisingly, and if you are a fan of Al Pacino or gangster movies this is definitely one to see.
on June 6, 2003
Carlito's Way stands as a fine testament to brilliant filmmaking. Beginning with the opening credits, De Palma takes the viewer through a black and white color framed death.We know that Carlito Brigante will face a trajic death and yet the viewer will keep his or her eyes glued to the screen as this story develops. Suddenly, the color changes and we are swept away to a 1970's new york city courtroom where Brigante is released from prison thanks to the skills of his diabolical lawyer(Kleinfeld) played by Sean Penn. The premise of Carlito's Way is that a reformed criminial can never survive because of past history. Throughout the movie, Carlito plays his antagonists like a russian chess player. However, Carlito's inability to return to the ethos of the criminial code of conduct eventually seals his fate.
This DVD is fantastic!! Carlito's Way is brilliantly filmed. You definitely feel like you are walking through the streets and Dance clubs of 1970's New York. De Palma provides a fantastic 70's texture to this film. Since I have a stereo system attached to my DVD player, I was amazed at the sound quality when Carlito entered various dance and strip clubs. In fact one of the hidden gems of this movie is the disco soundtrack which underlays this story. In addition to the unique sensory experience, this movie explores the mind of the big time criminial. The viewer witnesses a large amount of calculation and negotiation that Carlito must undergo in order to stay alive and pursue his plan of leaving New York. If I have not mentioned Carlito is surrounded by colorful characters like Kleinfeld(Sean Penn) and Pachanga. In my opinion, the character of Pachanga is fantastically put into the film. Pachanga symbolizes "the old school Puerto Rican gangster" that Carlito must come to terms with. Though De palma might not have intended to do it I found myself laughing at pachanga's quirks and gestures. Overall, I give this DVD 5 stars and would recommend this movie to anybody I know!!
on January 13, 2003
There are not very many movies I can say that I have seen over and over, but Carlito's Way happens to be one of those theatrical releases. Well-sequenced plots, fine acting, and fantastic music from the 1970's make this a total package.
Though I would not quite put it on par with Scent of a Woman, Pacino's other masterpiece performance from the following year, I nonetheless find it a more all-around, entertaining movie. Just as the chemistry between a significantly older man and a significantly younger woman created by Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer was successfully played out in Wolf, the dialogue and intensity between Al Pacino and Penelope Ann Miller were on the same parallel and quite mesmerizing.
I especially loved the "I brought you some cheesecake" scene. Those who have seen this movie know what I am talking about. And if I had to rank all the women who looked great in any particular motion picture, I would put Penelope Ann Miller's portrayal of Gail in the top five.
Along with the eye candy, there is plenty of delight for the ears, as well. Never before was You Are So Beautiful as sung by Joe Cocker ever placed in scenes that could be so passionate and yet so poignant.
For those who might have reservations about some of the adult scenes, Carlito's Way is not exactly your family entertainment kind of picture. But it is a great movie, nonetheless.
on June 4, 2002
Wow!!! This movie was GREAT! I first saw this film when it came out in 1993 and I really didnt understand it but I just got done watching it and it was just terrific Al Pacino was great and so was Sean Penn and so was Penelope Ann Miller they all work so well together on screen and Brian De Palma has made in my opinion yet another classic. I've only seen one other movie by him "SCAR FACE" but they are both so well made I can't say what one was better all I can say is this is one of Al Pacino's best work and it still proves to me that he is one of the great actors of our time. The movie starts great right from the start.. Sprung from prison on a legal technicality by his cocaine- addled attorney (Sean Penn), former drug kingpin Carlito Brigante (pacino) stuns the local underworld when he vows to go stright. taking a job managing a glitzy , low-life nightclub, he tracks down his onetime girlfriend (Penelope Ann Miller) and rekindles their romance, promising he's changed for good. But Carlito's dream or going to legitimate is undermined at every turn by a murderous former cronies and even deadlier young thugs out to make a name for themselves. Untimately, however, his most dangerous enemy is himself. Despite good intentions, Carlito's misguided loyalties and outmoded code of "HONOR" will plunge him into a savage life-or-death battle against the relentless forces that refuse to let him go.
on October 17, 2001
Brian DePalma has made many great movies through the years, but this one, I rate his finest work. This film has a non-stop sizzle and the most incredible atmosphere from beginning to end that truly evokes the feel of the 70s. From cocaine fueled disco dancing club scenes, retro clothes, big hair and sideburns, to the fantastic pulsating soundtrack filled with classics of that era. ............... Carlito Brigante, brilliantly portrayed by the master, Al Pacino, is out of jail early looking to go straight after doing 5 years time for dealing smack. As we open, Carlito is talking to us, telling us his story from the future ending of the with the wisdom of 20/20 hindsight. ........... Sean Penn is also in perhaps his finest acting role here as Davy Kleinfeld. We meet him in the courtroom at the open. For getting Carlito freed, Davy will try to get Carlito involved in his crooked coked up mess of a life. After stealing millions from a mob boss and losing control over his life completely, Carlito has a great line where he admonishes Davy. "You not a lawyer anymore, you a gangster now, whole new ballgame," Indeed. ............... Davy is only the first of many cohorts who will try to [pull] Carlito into a life he is trying to break away from. Shortly after being released, Carlito's nephew drags him along on a drug pick-up. In the one of the best creative camera shots ever lensed in film, we see through the other players sunglasses as he leans over the pool table to make a shot, a double image reflected, of the nephew in trouble. Carlito, again, forced to deal with the consequences he's been unwillingly dragged into. ............... Along the way Carlito comes to a face off at the club with greasy young upstart drug dealer, "Benny Blanco from the Bronx" played by a viciously ambitious John Leguzamo. Carlito doesn't realize that Benny is playing for keeps, and so he fatally underestimates him. .................. By the time Carlito realizes he's got no one to trust but himself, it's too late to undo the damage, leading to a vengeful mob cavalcade that takes us on a wild edge of your seat ride up, down, around, and then all the way to Grand Central Station to the not so grand ending, which is where the movie begins. .............. Please don't think of this as Scarface Part Two, it's not!! Although "Scarface" is a definite DePalma Masterpiece, it has nothing of the atmospheric sizzle of "Carlito's Way". The roles of Tony Montana, a reprehensible character, and Carlito Brigante, a totally sympathetic character who falls into the wrong circumstances time and time again, are in no way similar. Just because both characters are Latino drug dealers, played by the incredible classic screen legend Al Pacino, the similarity starts and ends there. ............. When you come right down to it, for the best in every aspect of what makes an entertaining and outstanding film, one of the best ways, is "Carlito's Way."
on August 15, 2001
Carlito's Way ranks up there with Goodfellas as one of the best gangster movies of the 90s. Pacino is superb as Carlito Brigante, a legendary Puerto Rican gangster determined to leave his past behind after his release from prison, while Sean Penn is a revelation as the attorney who manages to get Carlito released after serving five years of a life sentence. The director, Brian de Palma, uses the unusual device of revealing what ultimately happens at the beginning of the film, but this does not diminish its impact, rather creating an air of incredible tension as we witness Carlito desperately struggling to escape the fate we know is in store for him. In particular, the chase scene through Grand Central Station, and the shoot out on the escalator, is superbly staged and every time I watch it I am left exhausted!
Like all tragic heroes Carlito has a fundamental flaw in his character that is ultimately his undoing. He is still bound by the code of honour of his youth, a code that the New York underworld is rapidly leaving behind, and he finds himself an anachronism in increasingly violent and ruthless times. Carlito's lawyer is on a downward spiral of self-destruction as his delusions of grandeur see him sucked into this world of crime, and due to the loyalty he feels he owes him, Carlito is sucked in as well. When he is implicated in the murder of a "made" Italian mafioso, Carlito's card is marked, and he realises too late that loyalty means nothing when you are the only one in thrall to it. A new breed of gangster, personified by Benny Blanco, is taking over, for whom honour means nothing and power means everything. The crux of the movie comes when Carlito has the chance to kill Benny, and although recognising that "the street is watching" he declines the chance, determined not to be drawn back into a world of violence. By letting Benny live, Carlito has shown "weakness" and in the final reckoning this weakness is ruthlessly exploited.
If I have a gripe with this brilliant film it is the ending. If De Palma could have resisted inserting Carlito's sentimental monologue into the last few frames, when he realises he won't live to see the future he dreams of with his girlfriend (played by Penelope Ann Miller) Carlito's Way would have been almost perfect. However, this is a small point and shouldn't detract from what is otherwise a magnificent piece of film making.
on July 3, 2001
Carlito Brigante played by Al Pacino, while not as rivetting and frightening as Tony Montana of Scarface is a thrill to watch. The viewer sees a once boastful criminal trying to make it on the straight and narrow and put together $75,000 to go to the Bahamas and buy into a rental car agency a gone straight con before him has started. The only way to earn this money is to manage a disco owned by his best friend, adopted brother and attorney, played by Sean Penn who sets Carlito up in more ways than one. While this might sound like an out of character leap for a gangster, Pacino does make Carlito's passion to escape the world he grew up in credible. What does lack a little credibility is Pacino's Puerto Rican accent; his muddles between Italian, Cuban and faintly Jewish, leaving one to wonder if perhaps this film could've benefitted from more research or training on the usually perfectionist Pacino's part. Sean Penn, whose past films and personal life have left much to be desired and yet appealing promises of megastar possibilities has found his part as the slimy lawyer. Penn is astounding, dynamic and chilling as the coked up lawyer who's willing to destroy anyone who would get in the way of his profit or safety. Sean Penn has graduated from the Brat Pack of movie actors and is now working on his Masters in craftsmanship and ability. This may be at least the year of his Academy Award nomination, at the least, and a possible heavy contender for Best Supporting Actor, at best. Penelope Ann Miller, new to the screen, her past films including Awakenings is simple in her role as a dancer who loves Carlito and who acts as his moral foundation against a tide of drugs, money and crime that inevitably draw him back in. Her acting is neither good nor bad, one isn't quite sure of what to make of Carlito falling for this Anglo girl in a film that does strongly emphasize Puerto Rican pride, honor and integrity, even amongst those who live on the wild side. A definite miscasting but not a horrible one, Ms. Miller does deliver a waif-like seductress energy that offsets the grit and grime of the world Carlito belongs to. One can only suppose though that Rosie Perez or Sonia Braga were busy. One can only suppose also that Pacino, hitting fifty along with Carlito is worthy of being paired up with such a young yisse as Ms. Miller. I think the smell of chauvinism reeks under this. Comedian John Leguizamo, known for his astounding HBO specials on Puerto Ricans is equally chilling and hilarious here as well. When the audience has forgotten about Leguizamo as "Benny-Blanco-From-The-Bronx", his character is drawn back into the film as one of the major cruxes of plot and character and ultimately Carlito's downfall. Ingrid Oliver from All My Children turns in, as her film debut, a powerful performance, often times with just her eyes, as Steffie, a waitress in the disco club Carlito is forced through his friendship with Penn's character to mention. And as the lawyer's girlfriend, Oliver shows a strength and class which makes her a young Black actress to watch. Between Oliver and Penn turning in such moliminous performances, this film is worth seeing. Brian DePalma, known for Carrie, Scarface, Dressed to Kill and The Untouchables, knows this gangster film noir area well, having directed Pacino before as Tony Montana. Producer Martin Bergman having worked with Pacino on Sea of Love and Serpico also knows Pacino and his ability well. Screenwriter David Keopp (Death Becomes Her and Jurassic Park) does turn the true life account into a plausible, taunt and constantly moving script but it does lack a freshness. This may be where Carlito's Way runs into trouble. These three men are too familiar with one another and may not be able to attack a new project as vigorously and freshly as in the past. Carlito's Way seems to suffer from a lack of challenge, if you will, which resonates disturbingly throughout the film. I honestly wanted this film to knock me out of my seat, to open up the Puerto Rican world for the masses as Scarface did to Cubans but it falls short. There must come a time when we break from the old and create anew and Carlito's Way filmed as a 70's film doesn't break any new ground. Based on State Supreme Court Justice Edwin Torres' novels Carlito's Way and After Hours this could've been a mega-smash as a movie and not just a group of great actors getting together to make a good film. We, in everything that we do should strive for our best, for the greatest we can be. We should strive for paradise and as Carlito sees himself in the end, as one of the old school he's too old for this new world of slick gangsters, he's simply the last of the true mo' Ricans. How appropo.
on May 26, 2001
The title is much more than I can say for some of the other mob movies I've seen. This is one mob movie that will grab you by the heart and not let go until the final strains of "You Are So Beautiful" by Joe Cocker in the credits.
Al Pacino may very well be one of the greatest speakers that Hollywood has ever seen in the 20th century. You get to see more performances like this in movies such as "Scent of a Woman" and "Devil's Advocate." The film opens of course with Pacino's character, Carlito Brigante, being shot by Benny Blanco from the Bronx (John Leguizamo) just as he's about to board a train to Miami with his girlfriend Gail (Penelope Ann Miller). The rest of the movie is all Carlito's, as he tells us exactly what happened from the time he got out of prison up to this point.
The tragic life of Carlito Brigante, his desperate attempts to get out of the crime business, his fleeing from friends-turned enemies, and his being saddled with a cocaine-addicted attorney (Sean Penn)cause me to sympathize with his fate at the end of the movie. He didn't ask for his life to end that way, but at the same time he's obviously intelligent enough to know that what goes around comes around. He knew there would be a price to pay, but at the very least, henever lost sight of what was really important: his love for Gail and their unborn child.
on April 13, 2001
In one of his best performances ever, Al Pacino is the engine that keeps "Carlito's Way" moving from beginning to end. Recently-released from prison, Carlos Brigante (played marvelously by Pacino) is a former Puerto Rican drug lord who ruled New York City's drug world during the 1960's and 1970's. Assisted by his lawyer (Sean Penn) Pacino is determined to stay out of the trade that landed him in prison in the first place. However, as usual trouble always lurks in every corner.
Deciding to buy and operate a Latin nightclub from an owner who is seriously in debt (played by the famous Argentine comedian Jorge Porcel, who had a cult following throughout Latin America due to his sexually-charged comedy skit show "A La Cama Con Porcel; he is know as the Latin-version of "Benny Hill"). Yet as old faces reemerge onto the scene, newer faces have also started to take a foothold in Brigante's former empire, especially Benny Blanco (played by the ever-wonderful John Leguizamo).
Directed by Brian de Palma ("Carrie"), this is one of the most realistic, and historic accurate pictures of life in New York City's urban jungle during the late 1970's/early 1980's. Penelope Ann Miller ("Adventures in Babysitting" is great as Brigante's love interest, and Luis Guzman always is a scene-stealer playing Pacino's right-hand man.
The DVD version contains production notes, cast biographies, and the original theatrical trailer and the sound and picture quality are excellent. Pacino (a Bronx native) masters a perfect Puerto Rican accent in the same way he mastered his Cuban-emigre accent in "Scarface". "Carlito's Way" is guaranteed to keep you entertained due to thrilling performances by the entire cast, amazing cinematography, great directing, and most importantly, incredible realism. Destined to become a modern urban classic.
on November 10, 2000
One of my top ten favorite films. Certainly not without its flaws, but most are minor (except that accent problem... Pacino has the acting talent to have refined it). I love movies that examine characters trying to escape difficult situations ("Menace 2 Society" being another example). Just about everything else has already been said by other reviewers, but I wanted to add how moving the final scene is in the movie when the "Paradise" poster comes alive and deepens to purple (signifying something I won't spoil for those who haven't yet seen the movie). I was lucky enough to see the film on the big screen, and started weeping just at that point. Also, "Carlito's Way" is one of those movies that are really a collection of incredible scenes that collaborate with each other and finally come together to form the "big picture." Again, I love this kind of movie, because that's the only type of film that can be watched again and again without ever getting boring. 9/10, or 5/5 stars.