Review Written by: Everett Lauster
Directed by: Brian De Palma
Written by: David Koepp
Based on the books by: Edwin Torres
Produced by: Martin Bregman, Michael S. Bregman and Willi Bar
Starring: Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Penelope Ann Miller, John Leguizamo, Ingrid Rogers, Luis Guzman, James Rebhorn
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it!
Again, director Brian DePalma brings us into the world of drugs and crime ala 1983's remake of Scarface (handsomely written by Oliver Stone). Although, Carlito's Way isn't written by Oliver Stone, it is written by another brilliant screenwriter called David Koepp. As well as writing Way in 1993, he also wrote Jurassic Park based on Michael Crichton's book. David Koepp and Brian De Palma work with each other for the first time but certainly not the last. They once again teamed for Mission Impossible in 1996 and then Snake Eyes in 1998. Each time they work together, the movie turns out fantastic just the way Carlito's Way is.
Carlito Brigante (Al Pacino) has just gotten out of jail with the help of his sleazy lawyer David Kleinfeld (Sean Penn) and vows to become a model citizen. However, Carlito himself becomes warped into his old life style by his past connections and the naive machinations of his lawyer and best friend David. Carlito seeing that he can not secome the new man he wants to be in New York, so he takes on a job running a nightclub to raise enough money to leave. While doing this he attempts to rekindle his lost love with Gail (Penelope Ann Miller) and together leave New York and fly to Florida. Carlito's instincts and ex-associates get the better of him as he is swept into his old life of violence and mistrust.
As Brian De Palma said during the bonus features, he did not want to do the movie because it sounded stupid, because it is about an ex-con becomes a drug dealer, but he was proved wrong after reading David Koepp's excellent screenplay. The movie was made and turned out wonderfully. Pacino, as always, turns his role into a phenomenal hit and his acting sky rocketed him into more great roles. Penn's make up and new hairstyle shocked me at first, because I didn't even recognize him. Great casting by Bonnie Timmerman who again cast Al Pacino in 1995's Heat.
The special features included deleted scenes and "Brian DePalma on Carlito's Way, an in depth look at what DePalma was thinking and why he almost didn't direct it. "The Making of Carlito's Way, a half-hour documentary about taking the movie from the novels by Edwin Torres and making them for the big screen. The DVD also includes interviews with the cast of Carlito's Way. Sadly, there isn't a commentary, but the special features do make it all worthwhile.
Carlito's Way is a topnotch and action-packed crime film. I am sorry to say that the prequel Carlito's Way 2: Rise to Power is no where close to the original and the only actor from both is Luis Guzman as Pachanga. Sean Penn should have definitely won an Academy Award for his performance in the film and DePalma and Koepp are a match made in heaven. I highly recommend this film.