Every time I see one of those lists, “Movies Every Guy Should Watch”, some movies will be added while others removed but overall, there are a core group of about 25 movies that tend to always be on there. Today’s movie is one of those that always seems to be on those types of lists. Now I have seen today’s movie in it’s entirety, but never all in one sitting. Instead, it was always me channel flipping and catching part of the movie and sitting down to watch it from where I found it. To be honest, I never even thought of buying it until I was wandering around Blockbuster as they were closing up shop and saw it on sale. So let’s see if this movie is worthy of all the hype as I watch Scarface (1983).
The plot: In 1980, Fidel Castro opened the Mariel Harbor in order to allow some of the citizens of Cuba to rejoin their relatives in the US but also sent several thousand prisoners on the boats as well. Antonio “Tony” Montana, his friend Manny Ribera, and their associates Chi-Chi and Angel all come over on the boats and are sent to the refugee camp known as “Freedom Town”. After being there for a while, Manny tells Tony that he has a friend in Miami who has offered them green cards and a way out of there but the price is to kill a former Cuban official who is arriving on the next boat. Tony agrees and during a riot at the camp, Tony stabs the man. Tony and his friends are given their green cards and end up working in the kitchen as dishwashers and cooks but Tony grows resentful and wants to know when Manny’s friend is going to come through for them. After a few days, Tony and Manny meet with Omar Suarez, who works for local drug kingpin Frank Lopez, and Omar offers them a job but when Tony argues about the pay being too low and he deserves a higher paying job, Omar gives them a new assignment; meeting with some Columbians and purchasing some cocaine off of them. Tony, Manny, Angel, and Chi-Chi head to the deal and when they arrive there, Tony tells Manny and Chi-Chi to wait in the car with the money and if he isn’t back in 15 minutes, it means something went wrong. Tony and Angel head inside the apartment for the meeting but it ends up going bad and they are captured by the Columbians. Angel is handcuffed in the shower and the drug dealer begins to dismember him with a chain saw, then prepares to do the same to Tony. Manny and Chi-Chi, having waited 15 minutes, head to the apartment and manage to rescue Tony, though Manny is shot in the process. After killing the main drug dealer and grabbing the drugs, Tony calls Omar to tell him what happened, then he and Manny deliver the drugs to Frank themselves. As Frank thanks them for their service and offers them positions in his organization, then takes them to dinner at a fancy club. As they get ready to eat, Tony is introduced to Frank’s girlfriend Elvira Hancock and he becomes infatuated with her. As time passes, Tony continues to flirt with Elvira, even attempting to buy a new car to impress her. Tony then goes to see his mother and sister Gina, who had come to America years ago, but his mother doesn’t like his illegal activities and throws him out of her house. As Gina says goodbye to Tony, Manny becomes attracted to her but Tony gets angry and warns him to stay away from her. Frank sends Omar and Tony to Bolivia to Alejandro Sosa to work out a deal but when Tony starts brokering a deal without Frank’s approval, Omar gets mad at him and the two start arguing while Sosa is on the phone. When Sosa says that Omar should go speak with Frank and offers to fly him to Miami, but pulls Tony aside to talk to him. He tells Tony that Omar was a police informant who had already put some people away, then hands Tony some binoculars so he can watch a beaten Omar being hung from Sosa’s helicopter. Tony agrees to a deal with Sosa, with Sosa warning him, “Don’t ever fuck me”, but when Tony returns to Miami, Frank is pissed off about Omar’s death and Tony making the deal without approving it with him. Tony decides to go into business for himself and Frank warns him about which type of people survive in their line of work. Tony goes to see Elvira and makes a proposal to her but when she asks about Frank, he tells her that he won’t last long. Tony heads to the dance club and sees Gina dancing there with some guy but Manny tells him to let them dance. The two are approached by Mel Bernstein, a police narcotics officer, who tells Tony that he expects a monthly payoff in order to turn a blind eye to their activities. Tony then sees Elvira and asks if she considered his proposal but before she can say anything, Frank shows up and warns Tony to stay away from her, then they leave. As Manny and Tony talk, with Tony voicing his suspicions that Frank sent Mel after them, Tony notices Gina leaving with the guy and when he grabs her ass, Tony follows them. He finds them in the bathroom, with Gina having done some cocaine, and Tony throws the guy out of there and yells at Gina and ends up slapping her before telling Manny to take her home. As they are driving, Manny tries to explain Tony’s actions as just his looking after his kid sister and wanting someone better for her and Gina asks about him, as she knows Manny is attracted to her. Meanwhile, back at the club, two hitmen try to kill Tony but he manages to survive and kills them. Knowing Frank sent the hitmen, Tony calls Manny and Chi-Chi and they head to Frank’s office and, at gunpoint, force Frank to admit to ordering the hit before Tony has Manny shoot Frank, then he shoots Mel. Tony proceeds to take over Frank’s business, marries Elvira, and moves into a lavish mansion. As time passes, he starts becoming paranoid due to his using his own cocaine and starts pushing Manny and Elvira away. When Tony’s money launderer wants to charge him more money for the job, Tony decides to find another launderer but ends up being busted in a sting operation. His lawyer is able to get him off of the charges but says that the Feds will come back with tax evasion charges, resulting in 3-5 years in prison. Tony goes to see Sosa, who says he can help Tony get out of doing jail time but in exchange, he has to go to New York and kill a journalist who is trying to expose Sosa him. When he gets back to Miami, Tony tells Manny and Elvira that he is going to New York, but then blames Manny for his being arrested while also blaming Elvira’s drug use for her being infertile, causing a massive scene at the restaurant they were in. Tony and two of his men head to New York with Sosa’s man, who plants a bomb under the reporter’s car. The next day, they are preparing to blow up the car but when Tony sees that the reporter has his wife and kids in the car with him, Tony refuses to kill him with his family and ends up killing Sosa’s man when he tries to go ahead with the deal. Tony calls Manny to check on things but learns that Manny isn’t there and that his mother has called saying Gina is missing. When Tony gets back to Miami, he immediately dumps out a mound of cocaine on his desk and snorts it, then talks with his mother and tells her he will stop by later that night. Sosa calls and is upset that the reporter lived but his brother had died and tells Tony he warned him what would happen if he screwed him before hanging up. Tony goes to see his mom and finds out that some man had been hanging around Gina and giving her money and she blames him for leading Gina astray. Tony goes to Manny’s house and he answers the door in a robe but when Tony sees Gina at the top of the stairs putting on a robe, he shoots Manny twice. Gina screams and runs towards Manny and cradles him as he dies, then tells Tony that they were married the day before and wanted to surprise him. Tony’s men grab him and Gina and take them back to Tony’s house but as they enter the gate, a group of Sosa’s assassins head towards the side wall and cut the security feed, then climb the wall onto the grounds. The assassins begin taking out Tony’s guards while inside, Tony starts doing some more cocaine before he is confronted by Gina. Gina says Tony just wanted her for herself and starts shooting at him, hitting him in the knee. As he tries to take cover behind his chair, one of the assassins scales the balcony and starts shooting into the room, killing Gina. Tony kills the assassin and as one of his men sees more assassins on the grounds, he yell to Tony that they have to leave. The assassins kill the rest of Tony’s men, including Chi-Chi, but Tony sees them gathering at the door and, grabbing a modified AR-15 with a grenade launcher attached to it, fires a grenade at the door, killing several of the men and then shooting the survivors. Tony begins attacking the assassins, though he is shot several times in the process and as he taunts the killers, the assassins’ leader, who had climbed up the rope on the balcony, sneaks up behind Tony and fatally shoots him with a shotgun, causing Tony to fall off the stairwell and into a fountain below.
Scarface (1983) met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 82% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Director Brian De Palma and star Al Pacino take it to the limit in this stylized, ultra-violent and eminently quotable gangster epic that walks a thin white line between moral drama and celebratory excess.” When director Brian De Palma submitted the film for a rating, the MPAA gave it an X, as well as the two recuts that De Palma submitted. When De Palma refused to make anymore cuts, he arranged a meeting with the MPAA and brought a panel of experts, including real narcotics officers, who said that it was ultimately an anti-drug movie and should be widely seen. The MPAA finally gave the third version an R rating but De Palma released the original version instead and didn’t admit to what he had done until after it was released on video months later. The movie was a mild box office success, earning $65.9 million off of a $25 million budget.
So I will admit that while I do think this is Pacino’s best role, this is not the best movie that he was in. Still, this is a classic movie and one that is worth seeing, though you might not be comfortable with some of the violence. Al Pacino was fantastic as Tony Montana, while Michelle Pfeiffer (Elvira), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Gina), Steven Bauer (Manny), and Robert Loggia (Frank) all turned in good performances as well. The story honestly seemed a little over the top at times but according to the narcotics officer that De Palma had speak about the film, it is a fairly accurate portrayal of what occurs in the drug underworld. That just makes it seem even more ridiculous because, to quote Greg Graffin of Bad Religion, “Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.” The special effects in the movie were pretty graphic, and as over the top as the final scene was, they were fairly realistic. A violent, sometimes offensive, and dark movie but one that everyone should watch at least once.
Rating: 5 out of 5