Carlito's Way (1993)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Melodramatic tale of ex-hood Carlito who tries to get enough money to get out but is continually dragged back into the life he is so desperately trying to escape. Great performances from Pacino and Penn with excellent direction by Brian DePalma.

Rating: R
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: David Koepp
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 26, 1998
MCA Universal Home Video


as Carlito Brigante

as David Kleinfeld

as Benny Blanco

as Steffie

as Pachanga

as Norwalk

as Vinnie Taglialucci

as Pete Amadesso

as Tony Taglialucci

as Judge Feinstein

as Walberto

as Rolando

as Quisqueya

as Battaglia [Big Guy]

as Train Conductor

as Casino Man

as Club Date

as Dominican

as Dominican

as Girlfriend

as Girlfriend

as Manzanero

as Club Bouncer

as Club Bouncer

as Club Bouncer

as Club Bouncer

as Valentin

as Cab Driver

as Bodyguard

as Bodyguard

as Jackson Corrections ...

as Woman at Grand Centr...

as Diamond Room Man

as Diamond Room Man

as Bartender

as Bartender

as Diamond Room Dancer

as Club Patron

as Estate Party Woman

as Blanco Associate

as Italian at Copa

as Pachanga's Date

as Copa Wiseguy

as Panama Hatman

as Duncan

as Party Guest

as Band Member

as Guajiro

as Copa Wiseguy
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Carlito's Way

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (10)

Penn, in curled hair and wire-rims, makes a brilliant, slippery high-end shyster; his modulated hysteria is amazing. So is Brian De Palma's direction.

Full Review… | March 23, 2015
New Yorker
Top Critic

Pacino looks every inch a movie star, and De Palma provides a timely reminder of just how impoverished the Hollywood lexicon has become since the glory days of the '70s.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

"Carlito's Way" is best watched as lively, colorful posturing and as a fine demonstration of this director's bravura visual style.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

About halfway through, the overwhelming fact that the movie is a complete nothing becomes too much to ignore.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Pacino has his moments but for the most part he's surprisingly underwhelming. He's a great actor but even I can do a better Puerto Rican accent.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

"Carlito's Way," like "Scarface," is first and last a character study, a portrait of a man who wants to be better than he is.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Carlito's Way

De Palma's electric set pieces are peppered throughout a faltered narrative, but Pacino and Penn hold it all together exceptionally well.

Kase Vollebregt
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer


A decade after they lit the place up with Scarface, Brian De Palma and Al Pacino reteam for another compelling crime drama involving the drug trade- a gripping film that shows the consequences of a life of crime from a much more real and gritty perspective point of view than Scarface. Not that Scarface is a bad movie, it's a great film, but this one is just more human.

Carlito "Charlie" Brigante has just been released from prison after serving 5 years of a 30 year sentence thanks to the work of his scheming and smarmy lawyer Dave Kleinfeld. Now that he's out, Carlito decides to go the straight and narrow, and cut ties with his old life. He's got big dreams ahead of him, and, noble as they may be, he finds it hard to completely let go of the past.

As I said above, it's a very human film, and it goes for the heart as much as it does for the throat. Yeah, the film has shades of familiarity (what film doesn't?) but it's very well played. De Palma tones down some of the manic camera work, and there's no split screen, but we do get some good long takes and tracking shots, and that typical feeling of being inside the event of the film that he's known for doing. It's a gorgeous picture, and you truly get immersed in Carlito's world.

It's set in the 70s (I believe, as the film doesn't make it too obvious, but it feels like that's what they're trying for), and the details, though subtle, are nice. This could have been more overt, but they went for restraint, and that makes the picture a lot stronger I think.

It's also got some terrific performances. Pacino once again stuns as Carlito, and I dig the beard he brings with his accent. Sean Penn is tremendous as Kleinfeld, and he's the kind of coked-out worm you love to hate. Luis Guzman and John Leguizamo provide some decent supporting performances, and Penelope Ann Miller is fine as Carlito's old/rekindled flame Gale, but the real treat acting wise is the brief cameo from a young and barely recognizable Viggo Mortensen as an old wheelchair-bound associate of Carlito's. It's a truly remarkable appearance.

All in all, this is a wonderful film. It's long, but it doesn't feel like a chore. You get to know the characters and world, and you really try to root for them and hope that a more mature perspective on the world will yield better results. Definitely give this one a shot. Truly one of De Palma's finest.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

One of the best crime dramas of the 90's.

Excellent Gangster Film! Carlito's Way (1993), is a brilliant cinematic work. Pacino's performance as Carlito Berganzi displays the duplicity and subsequent torment between his reformed spirit, and the endless seduction of the street, embodied more specifically as his reputation,legacy,those who know him, of him, and those whom he allows in his innermost circle. Sean Penn is phenomenal as the lawyer representing Carlito, his metamorphosis into character is testament to his depth of talent. Penelope Ann Miller, as the long-suffering love of Carlito's life is dramatically and visually enchanting. The casting is perfect. The supporting cast superb, perfectly augmenting the film. The script is alive with literary devices, the story line(s), characters, dialogue, themes, sub-texts,etc., make this an almost endlessly watchable film. This is by far one of Pacino's best movies in his career and he should've definitely at least been nominated for an Oscar. Definitely worth to be in your collection if you're a fan of crime dramas or gangster flicks.

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.

Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

Carlito's Way Quotes

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