Brian De Palma‘s hot-blooded, fiercely operatic and completely over-the-top gonzo crime drama stars Al Pacino as Tony Montana, a Cuban immigrant who rises in the ranks of Miami’s underworld until he’s nothing but a jittery paranoid freak, all alone with a mountain of cocaine on his desk and armed fellow criminals coming up the stairs to kill him. De Palma, Pacino and screenwriter Oliver Stone pull no punches in this intense, wildly violent and stunningly profane epic co-starring Steven Bauer as Tony’s longtime friend and business partner, Michelle Pfeiffer as his drug-addled trophy wife, Robert Loggia as his crime lord predecessor and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as his impressionable younger sister. Pacino’s performance somehow manages to be both broad and theatrical as well as consistently emotionally honest (the scene where he drunkenly lashes out at the patrons of a fancy restaurant is especially impressive); he’s truly riveting from start to finish as Tony’s pride, temper and appetites prove to be his undoing. While most certainly a “cautionary tale” (if you want to put it lightly), Scarface has nonetheless become an icon of wannabe gangsters, despite the fact that the film’s “hero” goes out in a hail of bullets and ends up face-down in his own lobby pool.
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