Brian De Palma’s Scarface is a remake of the 1932 classic. The 1983 film follows a Cuban refugee. Tony Montana (Al Pacino) leaves Cuba during 1980 amidst the mass immigration of Cubans to the United States. He winds up in a Floridan refugee camp, but his friend Manny (Steven Bauer) has an “out” for them. He’s soon under the employ of drug dealer Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia) and shows his quality when a deal with the Colombians goes awry. Also, he brings new heights of bloody brutal violence to the city of Miami. Tony is very protective of his sister, but his mother finds out what he does with his time, and disowns him. This film is a story about one man’s transition from rags to riches. And how the world didn’t know him by the name Tony Montana but the more revered name of Scarface.
Written by Oliver Stone and directed by Brian De Palma, Tony Montana is certainly Al Pacino’s career defining role. Well, it’s a toss-up between that and Michael Corleone and The Godfather Trilogy. But when I say Al Pacino, I think about the iconic “Say hello to my little friend!” scene in Scarface. It is a classic, in which its fans are of all ages and it’s one of cinema’s modern great performances, delivered by the brilliant Al Pacino (Heat). To say that Tony Montana was evil would be putting it lightly, and yet, Al Pacino did go onto to play Satan in The Devil’s Advocate. This is a sensational performance from an actor who has gone on to do so many great roles. This is Al Pacino in his prime with his arrogant swagger and ostentatious persona oozing into this ruthless gangster.
Scarface has an epic cult following, even now in 2016, over thirty years after its initial release. It has been widely bashed as being tacky, unrefined, very over-the-top and bloated. Scarface is certainly one of my favourite gangster movies of all time that I’d put in the same race as the likes of The Godfather, Goodfellas, Once Upon A Time In America and The Untouchables. Scarface has what many gangster films lack. It’s edgy, raw and has a crude approach to the representation of gangsters. The Latino mobsters in this film look scarier than the polished well-dressed Italian gangsters in such features like Goodfellas, The Godfather or even such television shows such as The Sopranos or even Boardwalk Empire.
This is one of the plus points to this movie, as I feel that it was needlessly written off as tacky by the critics. And we know how much a critics opinion means, especially in 2016 with the amount of movies that are being trashed by them yet still making money in the box office. There is certainly an 80s feel, especially with the soundtrack. There are some excellently shot sequences, such as the chainsaw scene and the Rebenga hit. Robert Loggia is quality as Lopez and so is F. Murray Abraham as Omar. I also enjoyed Michelle Pfeiffer as Elvira Hancock.
The film’s only flaw is that it doesn’t give the audience a chance to get settled. From the get go, it comes at you with a cricket bat and hits you for six. It’s a full frontal assault. Nothing is left to the viewer’s imagination. Written by Oliver Stone (JFK) and directed Brian De Palma (The Untouchables) and starring Al Pacino (The Godfather Trilogy), Scarface is a must watch for the masses. It’s one of my favourite movies of all time and it’s one of those movies that grew popular over time. It didn’t fare well at its original release, but isn’t it common knowledge that the finest things in life get better with age?