It's a rebuke to the environment-nurtures-criminals mentality that infused the previous De Palma/Pacino collaboration from 10 years earlier, Scarface, which stands as the bloody and exciting but frankly pretty immature younger brother to the more stately and ultimately more affecting Carlito's Way. The differences are obvious right from the film's opening gunshot: Carlito's been popped and is being wheeled away to the hospital, musing as he dies, "Don't take me to no hospital... Some bitch always pops you at midnight when all they got is a Chinese intern with a wooden spoon." The rest of the film is in flashback, starting with Carlito being let out of jail after serving only five years of a 30-year-sentence and leading back up to that gunshot.
Continue reading: Carlito's Way Review