Movie Madness - Scarface | Arts & Culture
The following review contains spoilers and no mention of the line "Say hello to my little friend"....wait I just did....
I told an employee at the station that I had never seen Scarface in it’s entirety. Mainly because I had a 10 p.m. bedtime. Growing up, Scarface was like the movie-within-a-movie in ‘Home Alone’ Angels with Filthy Souls. I wasn’t allowed to watch it but if my parents ever left, I’d tried to. Problem was we didn’t own the movie and eventually my interest in watching faded out.
Cut to 15 years later and that same employee drops his copy of Scarface on my desk along with returning my copy of Cyborg Cop 8 starring Lou Diamond Phillips. So I went home that weekend and finally saw SCARFACE!
For those of you who don’t watch a lot of movies or Amish, Scarface is a movie about a determined Cuban immigrant who takes over a drug cartel while succumbing to greed. The movie stars Al Pacino as Joe Mantegna….wait no Tony Montana; Steven Bauer as Tony’s right hand man and back-up dancer for Menudo, Manny Ribera; and Michelle Pfeiffer as the sensual siren Elvira Hancock.
Right off the bat I have to say that it took me out of the film a few times when I would think “With the exception of Steven Bauer…none of these guys are Cuban.” I mean in a movie about a CUBAN IMMIGRANT you’d think they would have a few of the main players have some Latin blood in them or at least have listened to Gloria Estefan song but instead you get Italians playing Cubans. With names like Pacino, Mastrantonio and Loggia they sound more like side items you can get at Fazoli’s. It’s sort of like how in the 50’s and 60’s when they wanted someone to be a Native American, all they would do was just get a fake tan and dye their hair black. A good example is John Wayne’s The Searchers. The bad guy is (famously named Scar) played by Henry Brandon who was born in the whitest place ever, Germany. I digress but that was my only immediate problem with the film. To sum it up you have Italian actors playing Cubans with fake tans and even worse accents at times.
So we start the movie out introducing Tony Montana and his best friend Manny Ribera as they are Cuban refugees who arrive in Miami on a Mariel boatlift along with thousands of other refugees who are escorted to a camp called ‘Freedomtown’. Shortly after, they are hired hands who kill off a Cuban government official who arrives at the camp. The man who hires them is aging drug lord and wearer of fine leisure suits, Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia).
After they leave the camp, Tony and Manny are low-level dishwashers at a food-stand. Their luck changes when one of Frank’s henchmen, Omar Suarez (F. Murray Abraham), offers them a job to buy drugs from Colombian dealers. HOW COULD THIS GO WRONG :D!? So Tony and the gang go to a hotel on Miami Beach and the deal quickly goes wrong. How wrong you ask? Well just let’s say that Tony and one of his crew members are tied to a shower pole and Tony is forced to watch his friend DISMEMBERED BY A CHAINSAW!!!!! Wait what?! Yea, I’ve seen a lot of gangster films where the deal goes bad and there’s a shootout but I’ve never seen it where it turns into an episode of This Old House with special guest Leatherface! The rest of Tony’s gang show up right before Tony is about to get cut as well and destroys the Columbians. Tony and the remaining gang get the money and the drugs and leave.
By the way, did I mention this was THE SECOND TASK that Tony has done? In the words of Ron Burgundy “That escalated quickly.” The first thing he had to do was to stab some dude but now it’s up to death by chainsaw! If this happened to me I’d go back to dishwashing…possibly floor-sweeper at Big Lots.
To summarize the rest of the movie, it’s nothing but Tony’s rise and fall. You see him come from nothing to become one of the biggest dope runners in the Miami area. Tony’s determination and mean spirit turn out to be his downfall. He gets to the top but at what cost? His arrogance and pride make him a target for a lot of people including (later in the film) Frank Lopez who was the one who brought Tony into the business.
Once Tony gets to the top he looks around and sees that there is nothing. He’s got the big fancy cars, a beautiful but drugged up woman as his wife and everything at his very whim but it’s all hollow. Tony then descends into madness and eventually everything turns south because of this. Drugs have clouded his thoughts and drives everything that was once good in his life away.
In the end Tony pays the piper (or Pfeiffer har har har) when he turns his back on his main supplier, Alejandro Sosa (Paul Shenar) after a botched mission leaves one of Sosa’s trusted men dead. Sosa then orders a raid on Tony’s compound and everyone is killed in a massive shootout. Tony is the last one left and becomes a one man army with an M-16 rifle but he is soon overtaken by Sosa’s gang and is killed by a shotgun blast to the back. In a scene of irony, Tony falls into a fountain and the camera pans up to a globe with the words “The World is Yours”…didn’t Captain Planet say that?
So is the movie good? YES! It’s long but it’s worth it. All of the characters in the film are given great arcs and great personalities including Tony himself. You never feel bad or sympathetic towards Tony but I think Tony is an extension of us. He is the dangerous drive we want to be and we get to see it lived out on screen. Director Brian De Palma or as I’d like to call him “The Master of the Crane Shot” gives us beautiful visuals from Tony’s drug palace to the night club scenes. He gives us beautiful bright visuals in a cold, dark and perilous world.
Obviously this film is rated R. I wonder what gave that away? (knock knock....A CHAINSAW!!!!).
I give this film 4 out of 4 Carfaces from All Dogs Go To Heaven.