Kooky ex-con Carlito (Al Pacino) is released from prison, vowing to live life within the law from now on. Unfortunately for him he gets drawn back into crime like Rocky is drawn to the boxing ring or Kevin McAllister’s parents are drawn away from him at Christmas.
To earn an honest living he buys a nightclub, going from Scarface to Barface, where he comes into contact with unruly sorts from his old life. With a similar premise to The Godfather Part III, Brian de Palma acheives more in terms of both style and substance than Francis Ford Coppola.
Carlito is quintessential Pacino with an endearing earnestness which stops just short of comedic simplicity, even if his Puerto Rican accent occasioanlly veers into Southern army general territory. Meanwhile the supporting cast all shine, including Penelope Ann Miller, Viggo Mortensen and Sean Penn as Artie Ziff lookalike lawyer Kleinfeld.
De Palma knows how to amp up the tension, making liberal use of reflections and crafting a remarkably intense foot chase sequence and escalator shoot out which feels like a subtle nod to The Untouchables. With plenty of disco music Carlito’s Way is stylish and slick, while also packing an emotional punch.