Carlito's Way

1993

Carlito's Way

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

80%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 46

91%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 124,526
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Carlito's Way Photos

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 sooner is Carlito back on the streets of New York than his old life claws at him in the form of both old partners (Luis Guzman) and vicious up-and-comers (John Leguizamo). Nevertheless, Carlito stays clean and even restarts his relationship with a dancer named Gail (Penelope Ann Miller), until he is finally led astray by Kleinfeld, who manipulates Carlito into participating in the murder of a Mafia don from whom Kleinfeld has stolen a million dollars. At that point, the race is on to see whether Carlito and Gail can escape his world for good. The film is based on two novels about Carlito written by New York State judge Edwin Torres.

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Cast

Al Pacino
as Carlito Brigante
Sean Penn
as David Kleinfeld
John Leguizamo
as Benny Blanco
Luis Guzman
as Pachanga
Joseph Siravo
as Vinnie Taglialucci
Richard Foronjy
as Pete Amadesso
Frank Minucci
as Tony Taglialucci
Paul Mazursky
as Judge Feinstein
Angel Salazar
as Walberto
Al Israel
as Rolando
Rick Aviles
as Quisqueya
Edmonte Salvato Jr.
as Battaglia [Big Guy]
Gene Canfield
as Train Conductor
Bo Dietl
as Casino Man
Tera Tabrizi
as Club Date
Jon Seda
as Dominican
Ruben Rivera
as Dominican
Sherie Mambru
as Girlfriend
Brenda Hernandez
as Girlfriend
Frank Ferrara
as Manzanero
John Hoyt
as Club Bouncer
Chuck Zito
as Club Bouncer
Steven Puente
as Club Bouncer
Jaime Tirelli
as Valentin
Tony Cucci
as Club Bouncer
Owen Hollander
as Cab Driver
Sam Weber
as Bodyguard
Sonny Zito
as Bodyguard
Walter T. Meade
as Jackson Corrections Officer
Michael Hadge
as Diamond Room Man
Sharmagne Leland-St. John
as Woman at Grand Central
Rene Rivera
as Bartender
Richard Council
as Diamond Room Man
Lindsey Lombardi
as Diamond Room Dancer
Crystal Haney
as Estate Party Woman
Joe Conzo
as Club Patron
Nelson Vasquez
as Blanco Associate
Gregory Misciagno
as Italian at Copa
Vincent Pastore
as Copa Wiseguy
Mel Gorham
as Pachanga's Date
Rocco Sisto
as Panama Hatman
John Finn
as Duncan
Michael P. Moran
as Party Guest
Marc Anthony
as Band Member
John Ortiz
as Guajiro
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News & Interviews for Carlito's Way

Critic Reviews for Carlito's Way

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (9)

  • 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.

    Mar 23, 2015 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
    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.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 3/5
  • About halfway through, the overwhelming fact that the movie is a complete nothing becomes too much to ignore.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • "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.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Carlito's Way

  • May 27, 2016
    I can't believe it took me until just recently to see this film. Absolutely brilliant performances from all of the main character actors (Pacino, Penn, and Miller). Great adapted screenplay from David Koepp (which should be expected as he rarely misses). You root and root for Pacino's character to maintain the straight and narrow after being released from prison only to see him dragged further and further back to a life of crime. Definitely see this film.
    Patrick W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 22, 2015
    De Palma's electric set pieces are peppered throughout a faltered narrative, but Pacino and Penn hold it all together exceptionally well.
    Kase V Super Reviewer
  • Mar 21, 2014
    To clarify in one sentence - it's Scarface with emotion: A character study into a man who wishes to be better than he knows he is. Although it emphasizes Pacino and Penn's charisma, as well as DePalma's elegant visual perception, the plot - leading up to the sensational climax - is frail, with drained morals and an unrealized sense of melodrama. However, it is still worth a watch, as what is probably Brian DePalma's last great work.
    Bryce I Super Reviewer
  • Dec 01, 2013
    Al Pacino and Brian De Palma collaboration brought one of the most iconic gangster to film with "Scarface". A film that would define both of their careers making "Carlito's Way" a unique enigma. While both are about man wanting to be better then he is both are the polar opposite in terms of tone, atmosphere, and pacing. In the end "Carlito's Way" surpassed "Scarface", but neither is it inferior in any noticeable way. Carlito's Way is about a Puerto Rican former convict, just released from prison, pledging to stay away from drugs and violence despite the pressure around him and lead on to a better life outside of N.Y.C.. Moving along at a slow pace "Carlito's Way" tells an engrossing story. Allowing enough time to develop every major player that come into play in the story. Getting across every character history with each other, how each one lives, and interweaving each conflict into a single narrative that never becomes lost among many of its characters. Filled with a wide cast they never undermined our main character, but instead build upon Carlito's character who doesn't follow a traditional narrative. What we don't see is the rise of Carlito to power, but instead we do see is the traditional fall. What makes this fall different is fully understanding Carlito's world how he sees it and how he goes against the image given to him. Yes we know the outcome of Carlito's life in the beginning of the film which in no way detracts from it story. It's a quite a feat to make a thrilling climax when the outcome has already been shown. It seems the plot would have gotten everything right if it weren't for stock characters. Sure the stock characters are well developed from the drug addicted best friend, crooked cops, a promising new young criminal, and many more unfortunately play out like a cliche. At its heart "Carlito's Way" story fits B movie territory where's it biggest strength lies using it towards its strength and not so much as a concealing weakness. It might be retreading familiar ground with stock characters helping you connect the dot faster than the plotline, but getting to the already known destination is an engaging character piece. Director Brian De Palma acknowledges that "Carlito's Way" is one giant slice of cheese with style. He pushes every motion and emotion to operatic proportions, ringing every ounce of drama. With its impeccable compositions, precise camera work, glacial tracking shots, baroque tone, sublime action sequences, and flamboyant acting, this is a film in love with its own form. Al Pacino's performance as Carlito is the heart of the movie. Compelling, tough, and intelligent from years of dope dealing and soaking up the gang-land atmosphere around him. Framed by a jet black beard, Pacino spends the film always dressed in black, navigating his death dream like a fallen angel. Pacino spends the film alternating between a stance of fast-talking macho posturing and one of melancholic regret. He wears the face of a corpse, of defeat and acceptance, his flashes of confidence a hip old mask which doesn't know if its going or staying. Then there's Sean Penn as Kleinfeld, a scheming, vain little man who starts off seemingly as legitimate as a lawyer of criminals, but as we soon learn, he has slipped into a world that he has no place to belong in. Kleinfeld, with his balding, curly hair and nervy, cranked voice. However, when the viewer looks into his eyes, both terrified and ravenous, one can understand the pathway to excess that most conventional crime movies take for granted. Carlito's Way is a slow and engrossing character driven crime drama that will keep you watching even though you know the fate of the main character in the beginning of the film. Well directed and well acted Carlito's Way will absorb you into its world and characters all the way through the end.
    Caesar M Super Reviewer

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