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Carlito's Way (1993)
Movie Review by The Mortician

Carlito's Way (1993) Ahhh, Al Pacino and Brian DePalma reunited for a gangster drama that loosely ties into SCARFACE in a subtle way---what if Tony Montana would've survived the end of the movie and been jailed, only to get out 5 or 10 years later on a technicality by his crooked lawyer? Well, he would try to fly straight and of course, get sucked back into the world of crime, murder and drug dealing Thus goes the plot of CARLITO'S WAY, although Pacino is playing a Puerto Rico gangster named Carlito instead of a Cuban thug named Tony. Obviously shot on a much smaller budget than SCARFACE, this flick is more character-driven and subtle, there's nothing as grand, over-the-top, and operatic as SCARFACE here. It even lacks DePalma's traditional mind-blowing swooping camera shots (except for one scene outside a prison) and split screens, making it seem like this movie could've been directed by well, almost any generic filmmaker. Pacino hilariously loses his Puerto Rican accent in several scenes, which I found hilarious, and the sections where he tries to reunite with long lost flame Elvira, errrr, Gail, are pretty painful to watch. There doesn't seem to be much chemistry between the leads. Still, Gail is a hot blond played by Penelope Ann Miller and she's a stripper, providing many scenes of nakedness for us, and she's nice to look at. The love scene between her and Pacino is startlingly lame, though, who kisses a gal's shoulders endlessly when those hot boobs with long nipples are beckoning in your face? Sean Penn plays the coked up lawyer that gets Carlito into more and more trouble, even as he tries to stay away from a life of crime, but of course things get out of hand with rival gangs, rumors, innuendos, double crosses, and murder. The first hour or so is pretty slow, but then things pick up and we're treated to some pretty tense moments, some decent action scenes, and a slam-bang ending (that's actually given away in the opening scene for some reason), all making this flick a decent watch. Not spectacular and nowhere near the wicked excellence of SCARFACE, but this is a decent crime thriller directed in Hitchcockian fashion by Brian DePalma. This is actually one of DePalma's last really good movies as director, sadly, unless you're into MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and the dreck that followed. And don't forget, there are scenes with Ms. Miller, prancing around naked in her late twenties, so all is not lost! Pacino! DePalma! Not quite the magic of SCARFACE, kind of Tony Light Beer but still, you can do worse.

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