A Puerto Rican ex-con pledges to stay away from his former drug dealing ways but finds himself being dragged back by his past connections and the naive machinations of his lawyer and best friend. Hoping to raise enough money to get away from New York, Carlito Brigante takes on the job of running a nightclub, renews an affair with a dancer but old associates and old instincts suck him back into a world of violence and mistrust. Written by
Keith Loh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Acting, direction and writing all spot on for a top gangster film
Inevitably, Carlito's Way will always be compared to Scarface. Same director, same star, same genre; it is difficult to watch this film without thinking of Scarface. This is very unfortunate for Carlito's Way as it is second rate compared to Scarface but it is a very good film and many people have failed to see this.
Where Scarface was about a South American battling his way to the top of the crime world, Carlito's Way is about a South American gangster trying to leave his past behind him. The story is very good and believable, the problems for Carlito (Al Pacino) are very typical for someone in his position and the relationships are all very convincing. The fact that Edwin Torres based his characters on real people and that events in the film are inspired by real life, really help Carlito's Way to be a credible film. The fact that it is Carlito's lawyer, Kleinfeld (Sean Penn), who got him out of prison and then becomes a loose cannon who provides Carlito with too many problems is a great illustration of respect and excess going to someone's head.
The performances in this film are extremely strong. Al Pacino is one of the best actors ever to be witnessed and is on outstanding form here. The beard, shades and long coat are a very good look for him and definitely provide him with one of his most fashionable roles to date. What is most convincing in this performance is his charm towards Gail (Penelope Ann Miller) as the audience, along with Gail, fall for him instantly, despite knowing his past. His scenes with Sean Penn are also amongst the films strong points because it always good to see Pacino act angry. The dialogue between these two is exceptional and really highlights how strongly Carlito's Way is written. Sean Penn does not let Pacino outclass him and gives one of his strongest performances. As an arrogant coke head, Penn portrays a character who is really repulsive and dislikeable and incites a great sense of hatred from the audience. Penelope Ann Miller does well to give the film feeling and bring it down to earth. It is pleasurable to watch her inner conflicts regarding Carlito as she pulls off the emotional scenes very professionally and is very effective at drawing out an emotional response from the audience. Luis Guzman and John Leguizamo are the two most memorable characters from the supporting cast, they both fit specific niches very well and both give great performances. It was nice to see Adrian Pasdar in the film, shame he wasn't in it for longer as the writers could have made something more out of his character.
My only negative criticism of the film is that it could have done with a touch more action. Gangster films are at their most exciting when there is a high drama shootout but Carlio's Way only has two major action scenes. Luckily, the content is good enough to make up for this. The two shootouts are very good scenes, especially the last one as the tension build up is so intense.
Stylish, realistic and stimulating, Carlito's Way would be a classic gangster film, had it not been overshadowed and over compared to Scarface. All the ingredients are right to serve up a fantastic film.
28 of 39 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?