I watched Scarface for the first time last week.
I know, I know… I’m, like, thirty five years behind. But better late than never, right?
I’d seen bits and pieces of the movie over the years, and of course I knew the “say hello to my little friend” line (said in my best bad Cuban accent, of course), but I’d never sat down and watched the movie in its three hour entirety. Which is a bit strange, looking back. I’ve had a long love affair with gangster stories. I picked up The Godfather when I was eleven and have re-read it many times over the years, not to mention watched the movies I don’t know how many times (the first one was the best one, I dare you to say otherwise). I thought the Corleone family was the epitome of gangster-hood.
That is, until I met Tony Montana.
Tony Montana makes the Corleone family look . . . fluffy.
Tony Montana is raw. He’s smart. He’s cocky. He’s violent. He’s fearless and he’s ruthlessly ambitious. He does not give a shit if you like him. Really, he has almost zero redeeming qualities, except a) he rose from the absolute bottom and b) he’s got a moral code, however fucked up that code might be. Even when he goes down in the end (a demise that is as regrettable as it is necessary), he goes down swinging in epic Tony Montana style.
Tony Montana is the perfect anti-hero. He’s a gangster you can root for.
Scarface came out in 1983 and IMHO the story has absolutely stood the test of time. These days it seems like all we have are bad cookie cutter super hero movies. It was refreshing to watch a movie that leapt straight past all of 2018’s politically correct boundaries with both middle fingers in the air. I can only imagine the public’s reaction to it when the movie was new.
Watching Scarface made me think how all my favorite characters have a little bit of Tony Montana in them. The loyalty. The brashness. The unbridled use of the word ‘fuck’. (I’m looking at you, Deadpool.) I’d forgive these questionable heros anything as long as I identified with their moral code, even when they’re snorting a mountain of cocaine (a scene that was fantastically shocking, even in 2018). Every anti-hero story for the last thirty five years has aspired to the rawness of the Tony Montana character. I don’t think any have achieved it, but they’re all better for the effort.
I would like to say I recommend everyone go watch this movie, but, honestly, I think it would break some of you (*ahem* chainsaws . . . enough said). So here’s my recommendation: for the sensitive souls out there, you should never, ever watch this movie. Settle down with a nice Pixar flick, and get your feel good on.
For everyone else, if you have only seen bits and pieces of this movie, and you are even mildly interested in gangster movies, do yourself a favor and make a day of it. It’s the very best kick to the head a movie has given me in a long time.