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Carlito’s Way (1993) – Review

Carlito’s Way Movie Review
What happens when Al Pacino and Sean Penn set the screen ablaze with histrionics? Carlito’s Way! Captained by Brian De Palma, Carlito’s Way has cruised its way to cult status. As a Pacinoist; I was glued to the film from the first shot; a tight close of Pacino’s eyes. It’s a black and white sequence to flavor it with a déjà vu. The opening sequence comes back to haunt us as the final moments of Carlito’s life riddled with infamy, stuck in a stretcher. The catharsis becomes a doppelganger of Pacino’s tryst with crime. “Entire stiches of the world can’t sew me together again”, sums up the spiritual equivalent (Karma) of Newton’s third law of motion coming to play at a moment when the man seeks redemption. A vintage Pacino showcases his enviable range that can be equaled by an august few. Basking in the glory of The Scent of a Woman, Pacino’s Carlito is a marked departure from his Academy winning role of Frank Slade that released a year ago. The crisp editing of the film takes it a few notches further.


Carlito’s Way

Sean Penn matches Pacino a punch for a punch as his antithesis. Penn effortlessly portrays a scheming lawyer; who’s a friend turned foe of the protagonist. Sean Penn’s Kleinfeld is a bastard and is casual about it. It takes an actor of Penn’s caliber to do justice to the role. His malevolent turn is disturbing and that’s where he nails it.

No wonder Penn has graduated as one of the finest actors to have walked the planet along with Pacino. They complement each other beautifully and that is the icing on the cake. Penn lives Shakespeare’s, “There’s no art to find mind’s construction on the face”. It becomes impossible to gauge the repercussions of his Machiavellian machinations. The role is tailor made for him. Riding on the shoulders of accomplished actors the film is a mobster’s tale from the Scarface director that is anything but Scarface.


As a Al Pacino fanatic; I lost my heart to Sean Penn however; Pacino’s turn as a mobster shows why nobody can insult Pacino’s intelligence in customizing every script he gets.

Screenwriter David Koepp and Brian De Palma lay the foundations for terrific actors with terrific performances. The film progresses at GODSPEED! It doesn’t drag and steers clear from a didactic approach. Unlike other films the film doesn’t make you feel like a lesson in Moral Science. The film will be listed as one of the finest mobster films to have graced the silver screen in the not-so-distant future. Hooooooaaaahhhhh!