Carlito’s Way

I did not know about this movie till I reviewed all the movies by the famous director, Brian De Palma.

In a quick recap, I can say that I was not really impressed with the movie, may be because it was old (released in 1993), and was yet another Italian gang war kind of violent movie.

The difference was the acting by Al Pacino and Sean Penn. Both are classic actors with a wide range of skills. I have always been fascinated by both actors.

Carlito’s Way is no doubt, a violent gangster movie. It is mostly based on a series of action sequences with a range of wild characters who wish to kill each other. Guns rule America, and everyone in the world knows that. Guns seem to be so easily available that even a lawyer (played by Sean Penn) carries a small revolver which was not appreciated by Al Pacino’s character (Carlito Brigante).

Carlito wants to get out of all this meaningless low life and migrate to Bahamas with his girl friend. Unfortunately, he gets caught up with the same kind of characters in the same place in New York. I thought it should have been different given that Carlito appeared to be smarter than the average criminal. But then, there would have been no such movie, right ?

This movie is a good depiction of why and how criminals are denied the opportunity to reform themselves. It also shows that the police and prosecution want the criminal back behind bars, instead of trying to help the ex-criminal move away from his past in a determined fashion. If Carlito keeps going back to the same place of crime, he will keep meeting the same criminals, right ? That’s what happens repeatedly in the movie.

The movie also shows that it may not be wise to put all faith on a friend who has saved you once upon a time. Especially if the friend (in this case, a lawyer, Sean Penn) shows criminal tendencies. Carlito should have not cooperated with his lawyer in a criminal venture, but he did, and that was his undoing. Also, he should have listened to his wise girl friend not to pursue that venture with his lawyer, because she rightfully distrusts him.

Brian De Palma is a skillful director who moves the movie along in the way that only he knows – in this movie I did not expect Carlito to die at the end. I thought he will reunite with his girlfriend and flee the crime scene of New York City. But when I saw the shooting scene at the Grand Central Station, something felt not right, and at the last moment, Carlito’s bodyguard friend gives him away to another criminal who takes revenge on Carlito.

Good movie overall, not very impressive, but should be viewed as it has developed a sort of cult following amongst crime thrillers. Again, I like the ole New York City and the way the people dressed way back in the eighties, so I enjoyed the movie. The action sequences especially on the Metro were real good.


Vijay Srinivasan

28th June 2015


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