Scarface is a 1983 American crime drama film directed by Brian De Palma and written by Oliver Stone. A remake of the 1932 film of the same name, Scarface tells the story of Cuban refugee Tony Montana (Al Pacino) who arrives in 1980s Miami with nothing, and rises up to become a powerful drug kingpin. The film also features Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Steven Bauer, and Michelle Pfeiffer.
The initial critical response to Scarface was mixed, with criticism over excessive violence, frequent strong language and graphic hard drug usage. Some Cuban expatriates in Miami objected to the film’s portrayal of Cubans as criminals and drug traffickers. Contemporary reviews have been more positive, and screenwriters and directors such as Martin Scorsese have notably praised the movie. It is now considered a classic within the mob film genre and has resulted in many cultural references such as in comic books and video games.
In 1980, Cuban refugee Tony Montana (Al Pacino) arrives in Miami, and is sent to a refugee camp with his best friend Manny Ray (Steven Bauer), and their associates Angel (Pepe Serna) and Chi-Chi (Ángel Salazar). In exchange for assassinating a former Cuban government official at the request of wealthy drug dealer Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia), the group are released from the camp and given green cards. Frank’s henchman Omar Suarez (F. Murray Abraham) gives the group the opportunity to purchase cocaine from Colombian dealers, but the deal collapses. Angel is dismembered with a chainsaw, while Manny and Chi-Chi rescue Tony and kill the Colombians. Suspecting that Omar betrayed them, Tony and Manny insist on personally delivering the recovered drugs and money to Frank. Impressed, Frank hires Tony and Manny. During their meeting, Tony meets, and is instantly attracted to Frank’s girlfriend Elvira Hancock (Michelle Pfeiffer).
Months later, Tony visits his mother Georgina (Míriam Colón), and younger sister Gina (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), of whom he is fiercely protective. His mother is disgusted by his life of crime and throws him out. As Tony gets in his waiting car, Manny comments on Gina’s beauty before being warned by Tony to stay away from her.
Frank sends Tony and Omar to Bolivia to meet with cocaine kingpin Alejandro Sosa (Paul Shenar). Tony agrees to a deal with Sosa without Frank’s approval, and Omar leaves to contact Frank. Sosa discloses that Omar is a police informant and then has Tony witness as a beaten Omar is pushed to his death from a helicopter. Tony vouches for Frank’s organization, and Sosa agrees to the deal, parting with a warning that Tony should never betray him. In Miami, Frank is infuriated by Omar’s demise and the unauthorized deal struck by Tony. As a result, Tony’s and Frank’s relationship dissolves, resulting in Tony establishing his own organization and informing Elvira of his intentions toward her.
At a nightclub, corrupt detective Mel Bernstein (Harris Yulin) attempts to extort money from Tony in return for police protection and information. Tony angers Frank further by openly pursuing Elvira in the club. When Tony sees Gina dancing and being touched by a man, he argues with, and hits Gina before Manny takes her home. Hitmen then attempt to assassinate Tony, but he escapes the club. Suspecting that his former boss sent both Bernstein and the hitmen, Tony, Manny and Chi-Chi go to Frank’s office, where they find him with Bernstein. Frank confesses to his involvement and begs for his life, but the group kills both him and Bernstein.
Tony marries Elvira and, with Sosa’s supplies, he builds a multi-million-dollar empire. By 1983, the operation gradually struggles as Tony becomes increasingly paranoid, he and Elvira excessively use cocaine, his money launderer demands more pay, and Manny grows resentful as Tony takes all credit for their success. Eventually, Tony is charged with money laundering and tax evasion after a police investigation. Sosa offers to use his government connections to keep Tony out of jail if Tony assassinates a journalist intending to expose Sosa. Later, Tony further pushes Manny and Elvira away by blaming his friend for his arrest and accusing his wife of being infertile because of her drug use. As a result, Elvira leaves Tony.
In New York City, Tony, Chi-Chi and Sosa’s henchman Alberto (Mark Margolis) prepare for the assassination. Alberto plants a bomb on the journalist’s car, but when he is unexpectedly accompanied by his family, Tony calls off the mission. Alberto insists on continuing, forcing Tony to kill him. Returning home, Tony is contacted by a furious Sosa over his failure. Sosa ends their partnership and reminds Tony that he should not have betrayed him.
Later, Tony learns that Manny and Gina have been missing for several days. His search leads him to a house where he finds Manny. When Tony also sees Gina in a state of undress, he kills Manny. Gina tells Tony that she and Manny had just gotten married the day before and were planning to surprise him. Tony returns to his mansion with Gina, where he displays remorse for Manny’s death before burying his face in a large mound of cocaine. Meanwhile, Sosa’s men begin assaulting the mansion and killing Tony’s men, including Chi-Chi. A drugged Gina accuses Tony of wanting her himself and shoots him in the leg, before one of Sosa’s men shoots and kills her. Tony kills the man and becomes distraught at the sight of Gina’s corpse. In a cocaine-fueled fury, Tony uses a grenade-launcher-equipped rifle to lay siege to Sosa’s men. Tony is repeatedly shot, but continues to fight until he is shot in the back. His body falls into a fountain below, in front of a statue reading, “The World is Yours.”
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First Published: Jun 1, 2012 – Last Updated: Apr 6, 2014