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Scarface poster

Scarface (1983)

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.
1.5 / 5
INCLUVIE SCORE
2.0 / 5
MOVIE SCORE
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Incluvie Movie Reviews


Benjamin Netzorg
June 24, 2021
1.5 / 5
INCLUVIE SCORE
2 / 5
MOVIE SCORE

Someone Tell Scarface That Cuba Is Not In Italy

Much like its central antihero, the film Scarface is preceded by its reputation for ultraviolence. Knowing that this was considered a film-bro classic, I went in with lowered expectations, but still hopeful I would at least get a good performance from star Al Pacino. As cautious as my optimism was, I was still disappointed to find Scarface a pointless and self-indulgent waste of time with excruciatingly racist and sexist elements. Director Brian de Palma brings us this remake of a 1932 gangster film based on a book based on the life of Al Capone. All those “based on”s later, it’s a story about fictional drug lord Tony Montana (Pacino), a Cuban immigrant who uses violence and betrayal to leapfrog his adversaries (F. Murray Abraham, Robert Loggia, Steven Bauer, and Paul Shenar) to the top of Florida’s cocaine trade in the 1980s. He rises through the ranks motivated by a desire to support and impress his disapproving mother (Miriam Colón), drug addict girlfriend (Michelle Pfeifer), and awkwardly incestuous sister (everyone’s second-favorite actress named Mary Elizabeth: Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). The drawn-out tale of ascension to lavish and illicit wealth ending in catastrophic collapse (the climax is a bloody shootout featuring Pacino’s infamous “say hello to my little friend” line) feels like a poor ripoff of a Martin Scorsese film, even though it predates Goodfellas by a solid seven years. There’s almost nothing interesting in the entire 170-minute run time. The dialogue is cheesy and the aesthetic is always either flat or gaudy with no inbetween. The bigger problems, though, are misogyny and whitewashing. Montana constantly demeans and objectifies women up until the incident that leads to the shootout, in which he suddenly decides he can’t set off a car bomb if the target’s wife is in the car. It’s totally out of character and further clouds the already-murky morality of the screenplay. Writer Oliver Stone is outspoken about his communist beliefs, and yet his film work often gives confused and conflicting messages about communism. Montana leaves Cuba to flee communism and has some unfriendly takes on Fidel Castro’s regime and its seizures of land from the capitalist class. Nobody challenges his hatred of communism onscreen, so even if Montana is a monster, the audience isn’t given any reason to disagree with him about communism. I think an actual Cuban writer could have offered better insight into the complicated legacy of Castro’s early years. 
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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.

Rating:R
Genre:Action, Crime, Drama
Directed By:Brian De Palma
Written By:Oliver Stone
In Theaters:12/9/1983
Box Office:$66,023,329
Runtime:170 minutes
Studio:Universal Pictures

Cast