As he comes out of prison a former criminal vows to live on the straight and narrow, but the pressures of his past life, society, his associates, and temptation all push him towards a return to his old ways.
Written by Edwin Torres and David Koepp, and directed by Brian De Palma, Carlito’s Way is a classic of the gangster film genre, a film that doesn’t really need an introduction anymore, or rather it shouldn’t, but let’s go over the basics here. Carlito’s Way is a classic for many reasons, one of them is that it is a solid film that requires multiple viewings over the years to full appreciate. It’s the kind of film that seems to change as the viewer ages and their view on the world at large changes as well. The film here reconnects Al Pacino with De Palma following their work together on Scarface. While Scarface seems to be the better known, more commonly referred to film, Carlito’s Way can be discussed as being the superior film. Superior in writing, directing, and performances. Of course, experience being on their side, this reteaming was meant to be and meant to be more than their previous work together. Carlito’s Way is one of those films that has so much going on for it that it could not be anything but a classic at this point. Its story influences gangster films to this day, whether the filmmakers see it or not. This is the kind of filmmaking that is studied for a reason.
Of course, a massive part of this film is the cast. The performances here are what needs to be viewed, they make the film what it is. They are powerful and just right, something many films aim for and miss. Here, everyone is on their A game with of course Al Pacino in the lead, leaving everyone in the dust. Not often talked about as much for this film is the performance by Penelope Ann Miller as Gail. She’s strong, yet vulnerable, she gives so much to the character and takes exactly what she needs for her performance from her scene partners. Her work here should be looked just as much as Pacino’s or Leguizamo’s or Penn’s. The men of the film, the ones committing crimes, the ones central to the story are all strong performers, but she seems to steal scenes left and right here, especially when the film is rewatched with a reviewer’s lens.
Speaking of lenses, the cinematography by Stephen M. Burum is beautiful here, the opening and ending in particular. The film focuses on just the right things throughout, giving the images a sort of personality and mood, the work of Burum showing exactly how to be right there in the story and with the characters without feeling voyeuristic (unless that’s is what’s needed) or like it’s pushing into the characters too much. The way the images are framed and how they are then edited by Kristine Boden and Bill Pankow creates the film from the more performance-based aspects of things. The images and how they are edited together are solid and great to watch.
As for the re-release from Arrow Video, the transfer is looking crisp, bringing things into HD in the right way with good attention to sound design when the transfer was made. As for the extras, there are a ton of them on here. The film is available in both Blu Ray and 4K formats in the same box with features being split between the two discs. Of course, the features include some of the expected content such as deleted scenes, an images gallery, trailers, a making-of feature, but also found here are an original promotional featurette, an archival interview with De Palma which is a highlight here for sure, a location visit of how the shooting spots look like these days which is definitely interesting, new interviews with the editors, critic David Edelstein, a new interview with the author of the books Carlito’s Way and After Hours Judge Edwin Torres which is interesting and makes strong points for picking up the books, 2 new audio commentaries, new artwork by Obviously Creative, a booklet with new writing about the film as well as original production notes, etc. This is a packed release to say the least and fans of Carlito’s Way should have hours of entertainment from it.
This new re-release will be available from Arrow Video on 9/26/2023.