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Scarface (1983)

DVD Cover (Universal)
Director:
Brian De Palma Brian De Palma
Starring:
Al Pacino Al Pacino
Steven Bauer Steven Bauer
Michelle Pfeiffer Michelle Pfeiffer
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Robert Loggia Robert Loggia

8.2 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Crime, Crime Thriller, Gangster Film
After getting a green card in exchange for assassinating a Cuban government official, Tony Montana stakes a claim on the drug trade in Miami. Viciously murdering anyone who stands in his way, Tony eventually becomes the biggest drug lord in the state, controlling nearly all the cocaine that comes through Miami. But increased pressure from the police, wars with Colombian drug cartels and his own drug-fueled paranoia serve to fuel the flames of his eventual downfall. --TMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: April 08, 2007
Ahhh, Scarface. Hated by critics upon its release, a failure at the box office, and creating a blueprint for gangsta rappers around the world, it's a movie that has truly shown that the initial reception of a film has little to no bearing on its overall success in the long run. Personally, I don't even like gangster movies such as this, but there was just something about it that sucked me in and kept me intrigued for the entire three hours that the movie ran for. That is an achievement, let me tell you.

If you try to break the movie down into a one-paragraph synopsis, it would appear that Scarface doesn't actually have a lot going on throughout its three hour running time - and to be completely honest, there's not a whole lot of twists or new developments to be found once the story is set into motion. We watch as Tony Montana (Al Pacino) comes to America thanks to Castro deporting a bunch of Cuban prisoners to the States, and we then watch as he and his friend Manny Ribera (Steven Bauer) move up in the ranks of the cocaine business. That's the general gist of the storyline, but the script relies more on the execution of this plot than the actual events that drive it along.

For example, we learn that Montana has a sister (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) who he is fiercely protective of... even going so far as to "protect" her from herself by way of beating the snot out of a guy that she decided to dance with. He has a mother who hates him, a mentor who isn't quite ruthless enough to be involved in this business, and a soon-to-be wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) who wants nothing more from life other than her next high. Tony Montana is a despicable criminal, yes, but unlike other films which go this route, he's also a human with problems typical of most men his age. This makes him much more charming to the audience even when he's blowing somebody's brains out, and we can't help but feel for the man as we watch him spiral downwards courtesy of his own ego and indulgence.

Therein lies the true strength of Scarface: it paints a portrait of a real man who has clawed his way to the top of the drug empire rather than being yet another one of those "gangster kills a bunch of people and lives the high life" movies that became so prevalent during the eighties. I also enjoyed how the director didn't take a stance either for or against the material that was being presented here; a lot of films similar to this feature an underlying theme of either "drugs are bad and will ruin your life" or "selling drugs will allow you to live the good life." Not here. We simply watch a flawed man operate this business and witness what happens to him along the way, but we're never beat over the head with one opinion or the other as the film progresses.

Oliver Stone is a hit-or-miss writer when it comes to scripts, but he truly nailed it with this one. However, a good script will only go so far if the actors involved can't keep up with it, and that is where Al Pacino comes into play. The man truly carries the movie, delivering a performance that rivals just about every other gangster in cinematic history (The Godfather included). Pacino seems to be completely natural in this role, and never once do you get the impression that he is merely an actor playing a character; it seems as though you're simply watching a man carry on with his daily life, even though said daily life consists of some pretty extravagant events. The supporting cast is also excellent, with both Michelle Pfeiffer and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio turning in damned fine performances as the ladies in Montana's life.

Scarface is definitely worthy of the "classic" status that is has received. When a movie that - at its core - contains material that I simply wouldn't be interested in (gangsters, drug trafficking) manages to completely redefine how the genre should be done and keep me entertained for just under three hours, you know that it's doing something right. 9/10.
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Ginose #1: Ginose - added 04/12/2007, 06:33 PM
Exactally how the American dream should be... aside from the key on direction and the great acting, what I love best is the way the budget was used. They make Tony's life look to be one of the most luxorious Forbes 500 things I've ever seen and yet, you should notice, that you never see any repeated gymics to repeat this, no "hip-hop" montages... one of my personal "Top 100". 9.1/10
Crispy #2: Crispy - added 03/06/2010, 06:20 AM
Ashamed to admit this, but I just finished watching this for the first time. Talk about an amazing movie.
Nirrad #3: Nirrad - added 04/04/2010, 12:35 AM
I also just finished watching this for the first time. I quite enjoyed it, except for the Terminator's cameo at the end. 9/10
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