Al Pacino and Brian De Palma re-unite for what may be the finest work in both of their careers in Carlito's Way.
Released from prison due to a technicality, former drug dealer Carlito Brigante (Al Pacino) decides to live his life on the straight and narrow. However his past reputation and the shady dealings of his best friend and lawyer David Kleinfeld (Sean Penn) drag Carlito back to a world where "favour will kill you faster than a bullet."
Beautifully shot and extremely well acted, Carlito's Way is not only a great crime movie but is also a tragic story of redemption, as one man tries to escape the ghost's of his past and start again.
As Carlito, Pacino proves once again that he can play subdued as well as anyone else. Taking on a role as another Latino gangster you can be forgiven if you thought this would be Scarface Pt 2. Yet this is not the case at all. The anger, paranoia and flamboyance of Tony Montana is replaced by a quiet cool, a redemption that drives Carlito to tread lightly and not bring attention upon himself. Where Montana wants it all, Carlito just wants to be left alone.
Equally impressive is an un-recognisable Sean Penn who delivers a career best performance as the sleaze ball lawyer who is out of his league. Penelope Anee Miller and John Leguizamo are also great, while Viggo Mortenson has a very memorable yet minor role.
David Koepp has written an amazing screenplay full of many wonderful characters, adapting Edwin Torres' acclaimed crime novels "Carlito's Way" and "After Hours". These novels were based on Torres' own experiences and the experiences of people he used to frequent with.
DePalma's direction is excellent. Since the film is set in the 1970's, there is an abundance of discotheque's and seedy night club set pieces which are the perfect fodder for DePalma's visual flair. As expected there are multiple tracking and crane shots. There are also a number of great, suspenseful scenes, including an excellent chase scene through Grand Central Station which is perhaps the best sequence DePalma has ever directed.
Carlito's Way is a great movie that, if any thing, should be seen for the performances of Pacino and Penn alone.