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Carlito's Way (1993)


Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 43
Fresh: 34
Rotten: 9

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Average Rating: 5.8/10
Reviews Counted: 8
Fresh: 4
Rotten: 4

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.


Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 123,320



Movie Info

Carlito's Way is a tale of a former hood trying to escape his former life. Al Pacino is Carlito Brigante, a high-level Puerto Rican drug dealer sprung from a three-decade jail sentence after only five years, thanks to a technicality and his sleazy, cocaine-addled lawyer, Dave Kleinfeld (Sean Penn). Carlito renounces his previous ways and takes a job as the manager of a club that Kleinfeld has invested in, planning to save enough money so that he can eventually move to the Caribbean. But no … More

Directed By:
Written By:
David Koepp
In Theaters:
May 26, 1998
MCA Universal Home Video


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Critic Reviews for Carlito's Way

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (34) | Rotten (9) | DVD (26)

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

"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

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

A competent and solidly unsurprising urban-underworld thriller: De Palma's imitation of a middle-drawer Sidney Lumet movie.

Full Review… | January 1, 1993
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Although still distinctly sleek a la de Palma, it's the rare instance in which romantic optimism & warm, careful character observation trump his penchant for coolly detached cynicism. It's not nihilistic, fetishistic or misogynistic. It's humanistic.

Full Review… | December 21, 2013

Perhaps the last great DePalma film, using his trademarks well but not overusing them.

Full Review… | July 30, 2012
7M Pictures

Beautifully shot and extremely well acted, Carlito's Way is not only a great crime movie but is also a tragic story of redemption, as one man tries to escape the ghost's of his past and start again.

Full Review… | July 6, 2010
Matt's Movie Reviews

A lengthy cat-and-mouse chase scene at the film's climax practically surpasses Hitchcock and even gives Scorsese's GoodFellas a run for its money.

Full Review… | September 23, 2006
Combustible Celluloid

As with so many De Palma films, Carlito's Way soon manifests as an essay on its own forms.

Full Review… | September 9, 2006
Slant Magazine

A great story told by a master filmmaker; sterling actors playing some truly fascinating characters; and a bunch of cinematic set-pieces that are worthy of repeat viewings.

Full Review… | October 5, 2005
DVD Clinic

Stronger in its suspense and action elements than in its dramatic moments.

September 21, 2005
Fantastica Daily

The film is a redundancy and only those who have played Brian De Palma's other movies so much they've memorized the dialogue are going to be interested. Al Pacino portrays a reformed gangster trying to break away from his earlier lifestyle. Needless to sa

October 14, 2004

De Palma and Pacino tread some very familiar ground . . . But while it all feels a bit recycled at times, it still works

Full Review… | May 8, 2004

Not one of Pacino's best.

December 19, 2003
Your Movies (

Charts the efforts of a Puerto Rican drug-dealer just released from prison to put the life of crime behind him

Full Review… | July 19, 2003
Spirituality and Practice

a tragic, boozy lament

Full Review… | May 26, 2003

A great gangster saga from the showman Brian DePalma.

January 29, 2003
KFOR Channel 4 News

One of Pacino's best. A First rate crime thriller.

September 20, 2002

The film is very well written. The characters are well developed, the dialogue is sharp and the story is involving.

Full Review… | September 10, 2002
Montreal Film Journal

A masterful piece of entertainment anchored by an interesting story and fine performances and hoisted by an intoxicating field of vision that nevertheless, maintains a sharply focused perspective.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Austin Chronicle

Audience Reviews for Carlito's Way


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: I don't invite this shit, it just comes to me. I run, it runs after me. Gotta be somewhere to hide. 

"He wanted out. He'd do anything to get there."

On one hand I love Carlito's Way for the performances from Pacino and Penn, for De Palma's signature touch of violence, and for how the story progresses on the back of its characters. Still, I can't help feeling like this isn't as good as it should be. It's good, but far from being an amazing film. With the talent in front of and behind the camera, I just always expect more. But still as it is, it is still a pretty fantastic piece of the Crime Drama genre. It doesn't reach the point of De Palma and Pacino's Scarface, but it is better than 90% of the other movies that try to do a story like this.

Carlito has just been released from prison where he was serving a thirty year sentence. Instead, he is released after just five because his lawyer, Kleinfeld was able to get him off on a technicality. Carlito expresses right from the out set that he wants to be done with the gangster scene. All he wants to do is make some money so that he can move down to the Bahama's with his girlfriend Gail. Things don't go that perfectly though as his friends are constantly bringing him back into the gangster scene. The film is very character driven, but as the plot progresses, it leads to an extremely suspenseful final twenty minutes. De Palma just knows how to shoot amazing scenes on stairs in train stations. The one here resembles the one in The Untouchables to a high degree. 

The movie is weakest when the narration is going on. The dialogue for it doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the movie. It just feels very awkward and even silly. Whenever I hear the voice over come on, I just wish that it wasn't in the film, or at least cut down a little.

Carlito's Way does have some amazing scenes as you would expect from De Palma. I already mentioned the scene in the train station. But the best scene in the movie is the first time we see Carlito pulled down into crime. He goes on a drug pickup with his cousin. The pickup doesn't go very well and a lot of shooting ensues. It all is capped off by one of the coolest little speeches ever.

While this isn't a masterpiece, it is still a worthwhile film for sure. De Palma has made better movies than this, but it still shows a lot of what makes him great. It is hard to watch this and not compare it to Scarface, but you should probably try your hardest not to.

Carlito: I'm reloaded! Okay? Come on in here, you motherfuckers! Come on, I'm waitin' for ya! What, you ain't comin' in? Okay, I'm comin' out! Oh, you up against me now, motherfuckers! I'm gonna blow your fuckin' brains out! You think you're big time? You gonna fuckin' die big time! You ready? HERE COMES THE PAIN! 

Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Luiz Guil-whatever-his-name-is-Pugface-lookin samoan... its like everything Pacino says he just repeats it: "yo Benny you gots ta pay me!!!" "yeah,Benny u gots ta pay him!"

Coxxie Mild Sauce

Super Reviewer

Carlito's Way Quotes

Carlito Brigante:
That's Sasso... Used to be Ron.
– Submitted by Madeleine M (2 years ago)
Carlito Brigante:
Okay, I reloaded!
– Submitted by Jeremy L (2 years ago)
David Kleinfeld:
Loyalty to your friends is going to get you killed one day.
– Submitted by Lars P (3 years ago)
David Kleinfeld:
Fuck you and your self-righteous code of the goddamn streets. Did it pull you out of a 30 year stint in only 5 years? No, it didn't, I did. Did it get you acquitted 4 fucking times? No, it didn't, I did, so fuck you, fuck the streets, your whole goddamn world is this big, and there's only one rule, you save your own ass.
– Submitted by Gavin S (3 years ago)
[crying] That's the last time I wipe up your blood!
– Submitted by Andrew B (3 years ago)
Carlito Brigante:
You think you're big time? You gonna fuckin' die big time.
– Submitted by Mohammad A (3 years ago)

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