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Movie Reviews

Carlito’s Way



Released: January 7th 1994 (UK)

Director: Brian DePalma

Stars: Al Pacino, Sean Penn, John Leguizamo

Certificate: 18 (UK)

Reviewer: Luke Walkley

With a career spanning more than 40 years, Al Pacino is widely regarded as one of the greatest actors to have graced our screens. Michael Corleone, Frank Serpico and Tony Montana are just a few of the characters that we have been lucky enough to witness him portray. Another name to add to that list is Carlito ‘Charlie’ Brigante.

Having been released early from prison, Carlito promises himself he will steer clear from the temptations and crimes that sent him to prison in the first place. An opportunity to run a busy club provides the perfect opportunity for him to make his money and move away from New York with his partner Gail (Penelope Ann Miller). However with unstable lawyer David Kleinfeld (Sean Penn) and wannabe hotshot thug, Benny Blanco (John Leguizamo) hanging around at the club, it becomes almost impossible for Carlito to steer clear of trouble and sooner or later he will have to make a life altering choice.

Director Brian De Palma and Pacino teamed up for the first time since 1983’s Scarface to create Carlito’s Way and almost instantly it is possible to notice the similarities between the two. Sweeping cityscapes and upscale nightclubs, fast cars and beautiful women, all with one thing in common…Money. Making money for Tony Montana was all about the power that came with it. While for Carlito it means freedom, the ability to forget his former life and start a fresh one with Gail. It becomes apparent throughout the film, that it indeed may have been de Palma’s intention to create such a similar scenario. Two sides of the same gold coin as it were…These similarities may be entirely coincidental but they cannot be overlooked.

Carlito’s Way offered a host of interesting talent when it was released in 1993. Sean Penn and John Leguizamo have enjoyed fantastic careers since then and have more than established themselves in Hollywood. Even Mille, whose name may not be as well known starred in the recent (at time of writing) Oscar nominated (not yet a winner, again at time of writing) film ‘The Artist’. The acting really is of a high standard and as such there is a lot more depth than one might expect hidden within Carlito’s Way. Pacino of course, is on fine form and delivers in my eyes, one of his greatest performances to date as Carlito. Dark and dangerous yet his ability to focus on his ideal future allows him to control his own actions as well as those around him, in fear of losing that future.

Some of the slower scenes are masked well by the imaginative soundtrack that accompanies the film. Subtle at times and unbelievably seventies at others. It fits perfectly with the backdrop of the film that includes several locations such as Grand Central station to dingy nightclubs.

Applause must go the action scenes the film handles so well, all of which climax in the aforementioned Grand Central station. As intelligently shot and intense chase scene as you can ask for to end such a film. It is a fitting finale to the scenes that it follows.

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