The very fact that Brian De Palma directed this film is a signal that this film is of a very high standard. Before Carlito's way he'd already directed Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables, Casualties of War, and many many more, but this film with the possible exception of Scarface is, in my opinion, his best work.
The film depicts the life of a former Puerto Rican drug lord Carlito Berganzi (Al Pacino) from the moment his appeal is succesful and he is released from a 30 year prison sentence after serving only 5 years. Carlito pledges to keep his hands clean of any criminal activities...but Carlito sitting at home watching Trisha and drinking tea simply didn't cut it with the filming commission so instead he gets dragged down into the underworld yet again, mostly by his cocaine-addicted lawyer David Kleinfeld (Sean Penn), whilst the opposing force in Carlito's life, Gail (Penelope Ann Miller) tries desperately to pull him back to a normal, crime-free life.
The film is beautifully shot and there is no moment in the film, ever, when you think "oo I'll just pause it so I can go and make myself a coffee"...I have the attention span of a goldfish, and can rarely watch a 2hr 24mins movie without having a break in the middle for coffee, but this movie was non-stop and kept me completly engaged, 100%, from start to finish.
I don't need to tell you that Al Pacino does an awesome job...you already knew that, but Sean Penn and Penelope Ann Miller compliment Pacino's incredble acting skills perfectly.
If you are a fan of gangster/mob films (Scarface, Casino, Goodfella's, The Godfather Trilogy, etc) then you absoultely must see this film, NO gangster film collection can ever be complete without this momentous film.
This film is fully deserving of each and every one of the five stars I've given it!