Carlito's Way is a 1993 gangster film by director Brian De Palma based on the novels by judge and author Edwin Torres.The movie follows Carlito Brigante, a drug dealer who decides to get away from crime and illegal businesses after getting out of prison, but they continue to pursue him.
Actors Sean Penn and John Leguizamo had already appeared in the movie Casualties of War, also by De Palma.
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, maricon motherfuckers. Why don't you get out of here and go snatch a purse.
Carlito (Pacino), upon his release from prison, wants to start a whole knew life and become legitimate. No more drug-dealing, no more killings. He wants to play it straight. Dave Kleinfeld (Sean Penn),
Carlito's lawyer and close friend gets him outta serving thirty years with a legal technicality. Carlito's young cousin, Guajiro (John Ortiz), convinces him to come along on a drug deal that's about to take place at a local bar. The deal goes sour and Guajiro is killed by his suppliers and Carlito is forced to shoot his way out. Carlito makes off with the $30,000 from his cousins deal and uses it to invest in a nightclub with long time friend Saso (Jorge Porcel). Carlito wants to save up to $75,000 so he can "retire" and sell cars in the Caribbean.
A young, up and coming gangster from Brooklyn named Benny Blanco, (John Leguizamo) discovers that Carlito is out and approaches him time and again at the club. Benny wants to form a partnership with Carlito in Benny's drug operation. Carlito waves him off and refuses his proposal many times. During this period, Carlito also rekindles his romance with his former girlfriend Gail (Penelope Ann Miller), a ballet dancer who moonlights as a stripper. One night at the club, a fustrated
Benny confronts Carlito about Carlito's constant rejections to his offer. Carilto insults Benny in the middle of the club, and Benny takes his anger out on a waitress. A coked up Kleinfeld pulls out a pistol and laughingly threatens to kill Benny, but Carlito intervenes. Carlito, even though he knows he is damaging his reputation on the streets, lets Benny go and tells him never to come back. Pachanga, (Luis Guzman) Carlito's friend and bodyguard, distances himself from Carlito after this because he is afraid that Carlito has gone soft.
Dave Kleinfeld, is coerced into providing his yacht to Anthony "Tony T" Taglialucci's break out of the Riker's Island prison barge, after Tony discovers that Dave had stolen on million dollars worth of pay-off money from him. After Kleinfeld begs Carltio to help him with the escape,
Kleinfeld needs help
Frankie (Tony T's son) accompany's them on a boat as they sail to a buoy close to the barge. Tony is there and as they pull him aboard Kleinfeld shocks Carlito by beating Tony to death with a crowbar and slitting Frankie's throat. Carlito tells Kleinfeld that his favor for getting him out of prison has been repaid and that he wants nothing to do with him anymore. Carlito meets up with Gail that night and they devise a plan to leave town.
The next day Kleinfeld is stabbed in the chest by two of Tony's assassins and barely survives. The police retain Carlito while he is with Gail, and the two are taken to D.A. Norwalk 's (James Rebhorn) office.
Norwalk plays Carlito a tape of Kleinfeld making an offering to testify to false criminal allegations against him. Carlito visit's Kleinfeld in the hospital and grills him about the set-up. Kleinfeld admits to the set-up and insults Carlito, all the while Carlito secretly unloads a revolver that sits out next to Kleinfeld's hospital bed. After Carlito leaves, Tony T's other son, Vinnie (Joseph Siravo), sneaks into Kleinfeld's room and shoot's him with a silenced pistol. Kleinfeld tries to fire first, but his gun is empty.
After learning that Gail is pregnant, Carlito immediately buys two train tickets to Miami for them. He stops by the club to pick up his stashed money, and sees a table full of Italian mobsters including Vinnie. Carlito's stash is not all there and after confronting Saso about it he sneaks out of the club and onto the streets. The Italians chase
"Here come tha pain!"
Carlito through the subaway systems and engage in a gunfight inside of Grand Central Station. Carlito manages to kill them all but Vinnie who dies in a hail of police gunfire. Carlito spots Gail and Pachanga near the train and runs towards them. A one armed man running alongside of Carlito, turns out to be Benny and Benny shots Carlito when they reach Gail and Pachanga. Pachanga tells Carlito, while Carlito is dying, that he now works for Benny. After that, Benny shoots Pachanga as well and runs off. Carlito gives his remaining stash of money to Gail and tells her to start a new life.
Critical Response and Influence
Carlito's Way premiered with an opening weekend box office taking of over $9 million. At the end of its theatrical run, the film had grossed over $36 million in the United States and $63 million worldwide. Carlito's Way was not considered a success with its initial theatrical run, but the film was popular on home video and gained a growing fan base.
Sean Penn and Penelope Ann Miller both received Golden Globe nominations for their roles as Kleinfeld and Gail.
A few weeks before the film's premiere, De Palma told the crew not to get their hopes up about the film's reception. He correctly predicted that Pacino, having just won an Oscar, would be criticized. He also said Penn would be "brilliant" because he had not done anything for a while, and that De Palma himself, having not been forgiven for The Bonfire of the Vanities, would not quite be embraced.
Roger Ebert said the film is one of De Palma's finest with some of the best set-pieces he has done, he also said gave the film a thumbs up while Siskel gave it a thumbs down.
Peter Travers, of Rolling Stone, said Pacino's "Rican" accent slipped into his "Southern drawl from Scent of a Woman", "De Palma's erratic pacing and derivative shootouts" and "what might have been if Carlito's Way had forged new ground and not gone down smokin' in the shadow of Scarface."
Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly, wrote "a competent and solidly unsurprising urban-underworld thriller" and is "okay entertainment," but went on to say that the plot would have worked better "as a lean and mean Miami Vice episode."
Carlito's Way's influence can be seen in many subsequent forms of media, music, television shows and video games. Ken Rosenberg of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and San Andreas video games was based on Sean Penn's portrayal of Kleinfeld. They look similar, talk the same, possess the same build, have the same clothing style and display similar traits of drug use and increasing paranoia.The character Benny Blanco is parodied in the MMORPG World of Warcraft with the Defias thug "Benny Blanco" in Westfall.
Rapper Jay-Z has used samples of Carlito's dialogue in some of his songs including "Intro/A Million And One Questions/Rhyme No More", "Brooklyn's Finest", and Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life. Jay-Z also references himself playing a lead role in a fictional movie "Hovito's Way" in the song "Allure". Carlito's ending monologue is sampled on Ghostface Killa's album Ironman. In the 2009 album Loso's Way by hip hop artist Fabolous the track listings included a song entitled "Pachanga" which references to Carlito's friend, Pachanga betraying him.