is a Brian De Palma
film in which Al Pacino
plays a Puerto Rican gangster hoping to reconcile and start a new life after his five year stint in jail. It's a far cry from being another Scarface (1983)
, though Carlito's Way may be seen as its spiritual successor.
The two films are nearly inversions of each other; where Tony Montana rises from a nobody to a prominent drug lord
, Carlito Brigante attempts to reform
after a life of notoriety. Both films however, go their way to show that gangster life is not all it's cracked up to be.
, Carlito Brigante is released from prison
with help from his lawyer and friend David Kleinfeld (Sean Penn
), after discovering that the prosecutor's evidence has been gathered through questionable means. From this second chance at life, Carlito decides to reform himself for good
, vowing to stay legitimate and out of crime's way. He manages to buy a nightclub and rekindle his relationship with Gail
(Penelope Ann Miller
), a beautiful dancer.
Unfortunately, Carlito's criminal past catches up with him - his former associates, along with an up and coming gangster Benny Blanco from the Bronx
, attempt to cajole him back into the gangster life. Further complicating things, the FBI wishes to see Carlito Brigante put back in jail. But the biggest obstacle is David Kleinfeld's dilemma with a mafioso boss 'Tony T.' who is locked up inside Rikers Island
; Tony T. wants Kleinfield to spring him out, and Kleinfeld isn't sure of what other plans
Tony T. has in mind for him afterwards..
The film was an adaptation of two novels by Edwin Torres: Carlito's Way
(1975) and its sequel After Hours
(1979). It left out several events of the first novel. Said events were eventually filmed for a prequel. Carlito's Way: Rise To Power
was released straight to video in 2005. It covers the criminal activities of Carlito in the 1960s. The prequel was directed by Michael Bregman. The titular character was played by Jay Hernandez. The film remains relatively obscure, failing to gain much attention.
This film has examples of:
- Action Prologue: The delivery that Carlito accompanies his cousin on is this, given that it takes place a month before the main action of the film. It isn't specifically framed as a prologue, however, only being subtly disconnected from the main body of the film.
- Added Alliterative Appeal:
- Benny Blanco from the Bronx.
- And Tony T.
- Asshole Victim: Carlito decides to let his lawyer, Kleinfeld, get killed by Vinnie T. for killing his father. Then there's also Pachanga, who was killed after betraying Carltio at the end.
- Big Bad Friend: Kleinfeld has already sold out Carlito to the FBI with trying to frame him of cocaine dealing, even having offered to testify against him. Though interestingly, the FBI believe Carlito's attempt to go straight is genuine, and try to use him to instead bust Kleinfeld.
- Bittersweet Ending: Though Carlito dies in the end, Gail makes it out to the Bahamas with their unborn child.
- Bottomless Magazines: Averted. After firing a Colt .45 seven times, Carlito runs out of ammo and has to pretend to reload to scare some thugs.
- Determinator: Vinnie T takes at least two or three to the chest, drags himself covered in his own blood across Grand Central Station, and still keeps shooting.
- Dutch Angle: Used pragmatically - whenever the camera tilts, it's leveling two or three faces which are at different heights. As it happens, this positioning occurs in especially tense moments.
- Face-Heel Turn: Carlito's best buddy Pachanga sells him out to a rival gangster, in the very end.
- Fatal Flaw:
- Either Carlito's past, his code of loyalty even to those who put him back In Harm's Way, or his determination to stay straight.
- Kleinfeld's stemming inferiority complex, which leads to putting Carlito into deep trouble after he botches the Rikers Island breakout.
- Foil: Contrast Carlito's determination to stay straight with Kleinfeld's efforts to dig himself into a hole of his own corruption and stupidity.
- Foreshadowing: Pachanga is mentioned early on to be interested in selling Carlito out.
- The Hero Dies: Carlito was killed before he could escape on the train with Gail.
- Hidden Wire: Lalín, one of Carlito's past friends comes by for a visit, to have Carlito find Lalín hooked up to a listening bug courtesy of Norwalk. Lalín claims he turned it off beforehand.
- Karma Houdini: Benny Blanco from the Bronx not only escapes his karma, but defies Carlito's as well.
- Kick the Dog: After all the trouble Carlito went through to help him, Kleinfeld has already betrayed him to the FBI anyway.
- Off on a Technicality: Carlito got out of jail because of a prosecutor's mistake.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Kleinfeld uses Carlito to murder a prominent criminal because of his own egotism and gets Carlito a mark on his back from the Maffia. Carlito lets him have what is coming to him by arranging his death.
- Pillow Pistol: Kleinfeld keeps one while he is recovering in the hospital. Carlito tells him to keep it in plain sight and unloads it. Cue Oh, Crap from Kleinfeld before he is shot by Vinnie T..
- Pretender Diss: Carlito does not like gangster wannabes. At all. The problem is the guy he directed the comment to, Benny Blanco, wasn't a gangster wannabe. He was a young modern version of Carlito himself. It's even pointed out in the film.
"Maybe I don't give a shit! Maybe I don't remember the last time I blew my nose either.. Who the fuck are you? I should remember you? What, you think you like me? You ain't like me motherfucker, you a punk. I've been with made people, connected people. Who've you been with? Chain snatching, jive-ass, maricón motherfuckers. Why don't you get out of here and go snatch a purse."
- P.O.V. Cam: Carlito on the gurney.