It’s good to see someone try to get out from the life of crime. Bad boy Carlito is trying to make amends after the years in prison, but of course, you can never escape. I’ve been running from my hoarding obsession for years, but the shelf keeps demanding!
Showing us the tragic end at the start, we go back in time to see the events leading up to the subway scene. We know how things are going to go down which should break any tension, but it’s all about the how. Carlito (Al Pacino) is free from prison thanks to his slightly dubious lawyer buddy, David Kleinfeld (Sean Penn), and now wants to set things right and escape from the life of crime. He begins working with an old gangster friend in a club and the money starts rolling in, legitimately. Unfortunately gangsters like to visit this club which causes some problems for Carlito, and his lawyer is in deep trouble elsewhere. No matter how many times he says no, he’s going to fall back into the life of crime. With friends like these you don’t need enemies. Keleinfeld is a particular jerk I wanted dead from the very start. You just know he is the one who will cause the biggest problems.
It isn’t the most original film nor the most exciting, but the characters along with Carlito’s cool leather jacket keep it together. The final set piece is a real tense action scene, even though you know the outcome. Wondering when Carlito is going to end up as he was at the start gets the heart racing, and you have to be prepared that he isn’t going to win. It is an explosive finale to the slow builds of tension, unease and hope which has gathered up over the course of the film.
Carlito’s Way is a positive gang film I feel, as Carlito bucks the trend and really tries to break out from it all. You really begin to hate his ‘friends’ and hope he does make it through with his hopes and dreams. One thing that jarred with me though was the young cocky gangster played by John Leguizamo. Because I’d been exposed to the Super Mario Bros. movie way before this, all I could see was Luigi. What are you doing, Luigi? Is that moustache drawn on with felt tip pen?