Carlito’s Way follows Carlito (Al Pacino), an ex-con who weaves his way through the underworld he used to rule as his lawyer (Sean Penn) who freed him falls farther and farther into it.
Following Scarface, another Brian De Palma film, Pacino plays the loudmouthed con who gets out of jail early thanks to his lawyer and friend. Feeling indebted to him, he gets dragged into the world he tries to leave behind. Rekindling his past romance with the lover he left behind, he has to choose what life he really belongs in.
Pacino gives a great performance, both riding that explosive persona he built his characters upon while also have a simmering intensity in more subtle moments. De Palma understands the gangster drama, with previous hits like The Untouchables and Scarface and this is another powerful installment. It rides on the whole “one last job” cliché which makes things a little more predictable, but it’s still an interesting story about a complicated anti-hero that is a criminal but a criminal with a code of ethics built up from a life in the business. Those who don’t follows the rules pay the price.
If I had to complain about something its more of an overarching cliché that drives me crazy in movies. Al Pacino is around 52 years old in this movie, and it was noticeable enough that I Googled it. His love interest is played by Penelope Ann Miller, who was 29 at the point of filming. That’s 23 years difference, and it really is a noticeable difference. I hate action movies that give old actors these super hot young actress to play their girlfriends and they try to age down the actors to look convincing. It drives me nuts, there are hot older actresses, hire one maybe.
Still, this film is cinematically stylistic with such a 70s/early 80s film that I didn’t realize it was from 1993. It really heats up about halfway through, but it still is a slow burn with a thrilling and tense resolution. The camera work in the finale in Grand Central really is impressive and keeps the tension high. I’m not really the biggest Pacino fan, but I must say this is a well-crafted crime thriller in the hands of a capable director and cast.
Amy’ Recommendation: 8/10