Rewatched Jul 08, 2012
Silent J’s review:
Damn, I forgot how much I loved this film. The first time I saw this years ago, I fell in love with it instantly and saw it many countless times afterwards. I have'nt seen it in so long, I forgot I loved it so much and I was reminded just how much this still manages to blow my mind.
First, I gotta talk about the acting, but this mght take a while...
Al Pacino is fucking incredible. Every emotion he expresses and every movement he makes nails it over the head. Even the narration is amazing. Like his narration, this performance helps you believe that Carlito Brigante is this tired, broken down gangster who wants to find peace in not only his life, but himself. He tries so hard to fall back into the shadows but he can't and it's killing him inside. Just a brilliant performance.
Sean Penn gives an outstanding performance. It's fascinating watching his character go from this clueless and naive character transform into this vile and even scary human being the more falls into this seedy underbelly of crime.
Penelope Ann Miller is terrific not to mention the most beautiful I've ever seen her in a film. I'm glad she worked so well in the film because if she did'nt seem believeable, then you would'nt be able to believe the most complex and important aspects of her characters relationship with Carlito. It also helps they have fantastic chemistry.
Luis Guzman is amazing in this. One of the best and most underrated character actors really shows his talents here. His character has a small role on the surface, but it's even more important when you think about it, especially considering the ending.
John Leguizamo gives the best performance he'd ever given. Another small but important character. Every time Carlito sees Mister Benny Blanco from the Bronx he sees a younger version of himself and he hates everything he sees. No matter how much he hates himself (Blanco) he can't drive himself to kill a part of himself (or Benny).
Viggo Mortensen...man. This is another reason why I think he is the best actor working today. He has one five minute scene in this and manages to steal the show. It's incredible.
I can go on and on about the acting but the fact remains that this is an incredible cast.
As a character study, this is just excellent. I remember going into this thinking this would be like a Scarface 2 but it's on a much deeper, even poetic level than Scarface. In terms of action, this hits you hard when you least expect it and manages to be really exciting like Scarface but in terms of drama, it is well layered, complex, compelling, and very well told. The fact that it basically tells you how it ends in the first minute of the film and still keeps you involved in the film says a lot.
This is such a lively, exciting, phenomenally acted, and superbly directed film. What else can I say other than it is just incredible?