Al Pacino cuts a noble figure in this very enjoyable drama by director Brian De Palma (Scarface), based on a pair of books by Edwin Torres. Pacino plays a Puerto Rican ex-con trying hard to go straight, but his loyalty to ... more »his lowlife attorney (a virtually unrecognizable Sean Penn) and enemies on the street make that choice difficult. Penelope Ann Miller plays, somewhat unlikely, a stripper who has a romance with Pacino's character. The film finds De Palma tempering his more outlandish moves (think of Body Double or Snake Eyes) just as he did with the popular Untouchables and Mission: Impossible. But while Carlito's Way was not commercially successful and never rises to the level of greatness, it is a genuinely compelling movie graced with a fine performance by Pacino and a surprising one from Penn. --Tom Keogh« less
Luis Hernandez | New York, New York, USA | 04/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Gritty, realistic and authentic. And some fine acting too.
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 12/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I rented this DVD I hadn't realized that I had seen it in a theater when it was first released in 1993. I remember that I liked it then. And, guess what? I like it even more now.
Directed by Brian DePalma and adapted from two novels by Edwin Torres, who just happens to be a judge in the New York Supreme Court, the screenwriter, David Keopp, did a wonderful job of bringing this story to the screen. Yes, it's fictional. But it has all the gritty realism of authenticity. And it also has some wonderful actors.
Al Pacino stars as Carlito, a Puerto Rican gangster. When we first meet him, he's just been released from prison because of a technicality. He wants to go straight now. Keep out of trouble. But it seems impossible. He's immediately drawn into to some heavy gunfights when his nephew gets involved in some drug sales. It's bloodshed and murder and a very exciting scene.
Sean Penn is cast as his lawyer. He's a sleazy type. He's flashy, he's obnoxious and he's addicted to cocaine. And Carlito also owes him a favor, a big favor.
Carlito really tries to go straight, and even re-ignites a flame with his old girlfriend. He's working as a manager of a nightclub and saving his money. Supposedly, if he can get together $70,000, he'd be able to move to a Caribbean Island and run a car dealership. That's his dream. And I found myself wishing it would happen.
Naturally there are complications. The mob is involved. And so is the lawyer. And Carlito is drawn into another crime, this one with dire consequences. The ending is inevitable.
The film moved fast, the story was tight and well constructed, and I felt real emotion for Carlito and the hard choices he had to make. The story was set in the 1970s and I loved the soundtrack of all the old music too.
As an added bonus, there was a wonderful special on the DVD about the making of the film. There are interviews with the judge who wrote the novel and he talks about it being based on his own experiences growing up Puerto Rican in New York. We also hear from the screenwriter and the stars themselves. All this really added to my enjoyment of the film."
Third time's the charm?
Cubist | United States | 09/19/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There was a lot of anticipation when Carlito's Way was released in 1993. Director Brian De Palma had just come off a lukewarm reception for yet another Hitchcock homage, Raising Cain and was in need of a hit to appease the studios. And so, a re-teaming with Al Pacino in an effort to recreate the magic of Scarface made commercial sense. Carlito's Way was much more sombre in tone than the cinematic shotgun blast that is Scarface. It is a tragedy about how a criminal tries to go straight but is ultimately doomed from the get-go. This is the third version of the DVD, timed to coincide with the direct-to-video release of the prequel, but is it worth purchasing if you already own one of the previous incarnations?
Carlito is a role tailor-made for Al Pacino, allowing him to essay another larger-than-life character. Carlito is a smart guy who cannot escape what he is no matter how hard he tries and Pacino conveys the melancholy that lurks behind the bravado of his character. The real scene stealer, however, is Sean Penn's sleazy, coked-up lawyer. The actor reportedly did the film to help finance his directorial debut, The Crossing Guard. For a paycheck role, Penn does a great job as he disappears into the character, complete with a frizzy afro and cheap suits. It's almost as if Pacino's presence inspired Penn to step up his game. And this makes Penn's memorable turn so much fun to watch.
"Brian De Palma on Carlito's Way" features the director criticizing the current crop of movies that merely copy or quote from other movies or TV shows (Tarantino anyone?) and don't draw from real life. De Palma puts a lot of thought into the visuals of his movies in an attempt to surprise the audience. He goes on to slam film critics who don't like visual filmmakers and then, in an act of typical hubris, compares himself to Alfred Hitchcock.
There are nine deleted scenes totaling eight minutes. There are a lot of extensions of existing scenes that feature some nice moments between characters (like one between Pacino and Penn).
Included from the previously released "Collector's Edition" is "The Making of Carlito's Way," a 34 minute retrospective featurette. Sadly, Pacino and Penn are not present for this featurette that is nonetheless informative and well-made.
Also included from the "Collector's Edition" is a "Photo and Poster Gallery" that features some really cool poster designs, stills from the movie and some of De Palma.
"Original Promotional Featurette" was done back in the day and is more like a five minute trailer than anything of real substance.
Finally, there is an original theatrical trailer."
Superb gangster film with Jacobean tragic overtones
GZA | London | 08/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Just get it, the HD DVD transfer is magic - and Pacino too b
Andre Heeger | Germany | 12/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Who doesn't know this story about a gangster trying to find his way back into the straight life? Sadly, he doesn't make it. Too many old connections. Although the first scene already gives away the end, Pacino's tight and heartfelt acting carries you through the story making you forget what you already know. When the shock returns, you wish it to be just another nightmare. Pacino is more than perfect in depicting this terrific story about honor, revenge and the power of trying to live your dreams. Nobody but Al could have painted us this Carlito with more depth, sadness and humor. Everything is perfect here, camera, music, design, the pace, acting, the script. If ever you'll find the time, you've got to read the books the film is based upon by Edwin Torres. Also starring in this Brian de Palma masterpiece are Sean Penn as his attorney, Penelope Ann Miller as his on and off girlfriend and Luis Guzman (the great) and a nice cameo by Viggo Mortensen. The HD DVD transfer is wonderful. Pacino is almost entering the living room. Sound, picture: WOOW! Extras include deleted scenes, an interview with the director and a making of."