A 'Scarface' Reboot Might be the Perfect Way to Test Today's Cinema

Scarface Remake
Photo: Universal Pictures

1932's Scarface, Howard Hawks' prohibition era tale of a gangster's rise and fall was loosely based on the life of Al Capone and starred Paul Muni in the title role. In 1983, Brian De Palma directed a remake from a script by Oliver Stone and starring Al Pacino as a Cuban immigrant. Unlike the first film's focus on bootlegging, this one used cocaine to tell it's story of how power and greed corrupts.

Both films are products of their time, both cinematically and socially. Now, another remake is in the works at Universal Pictures with Pablo Larrain (No) aboard to direct with a screenplay from Paul Attanasio (Donnie Brasco) who rewrote David Ayer's (Training Day, End of Watch) original draft. Word is the story will center on a Mexican immigrant and his rise in the criminal underworld, set in present day Los Angeles. The lead character will keep the first name Tony, but like De Palma's film changed the last name from Camonte to Montana, he will have a different family name.

Apparently this new version will be a more mythic origin story, exploring where Tony's physical and emotional wounds come from and how they shaped him as a man. Speaking of which, you see that "X" on Muni's face in the image above? Remember how excited everyone got when Martin Scorsese used Xs in The Departed, most often to foreshadow a character's demise? Well now you know where he got that from.

As for the lead role, there's a wealth of prominent Latino stars for Larrain to choose from for the title role from Oscar Isaac, Edgar Ramirez and Michael Pena to the star of his Oscar-nominated breakout feature No, Gael GarcĂ­a Bernal. The Wrap reports, however, the producers are also open to casting a complete unknown in the name of authenticity.

The question is, will this film find a way to separate itself from today's studio schlock or will it fall lock-step in line? I'm not at all against a remake of Scarface. It's not as if we're talking about a story that's unique as much as we're talking about a story that can create a unique character, living within a corrupt and criminal world. The thought of the "American Dream" has almost become a myth unto itself and this is a story that can tap directly into that idea as well as move the dial when it comes to today's cinema away from the glossy sheen of digital filmmaking and give us something that feels real. Larrain's outside approach may just what the production needed.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/navaneethks/ navaneethks

    I've never watched either of the Scarface movies. Maybe I should get on it. Not really a gangster film fan though. I rarely find a movie that I really like in that genre.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/TheLastEquivocationofBrist/ Michael

      I did enjoy Scarface, but I'm mostly with you there. I keep trying to watch Goodfellas but I lose interest within the first few minutes (and I loved The Wolf of Wall Street).

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/navaneethks/ navaneethks

        Yeah same here.. I LOVE The Wolf of Wall Street but can't get past the first 15 minutes of Goodfellas.

        • Xarnis

          Dude, you gotta give Goodfellas another chance

          • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/navaneethks/ navaneethks

            I will.. eventually.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Newbourne/ Newbourne

          This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever read on this site by far.

        • adu

          I agree, Goodfellas has some of the worst and most annoying use of voice-over...other than that it's ok for me.

  • TheOneWhoKnocks

    Not sure if a remake is necessary, but if it's from the director of NO, then I am very hopeful.

  • adu

    Not necessary and after that enjoyable, though over-the-top perfromance from Pacino, it'll be interesting to see if anyone can come close to it.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Roger/ Roger


    The Pacino movie has had such an impact in cinema and pop culture, I find the odds are already stacked against it for this reboot to have its own fair level of success, regardless of how good the movie may end up being.

    The theme of a modern day story of an immigrant trying to live the "American Dream" in a criminal world is fine, but I find it cheapens the story to have to call it "Scarface". Seems like they are depending as much on the reputation and name that the previous movie has built as they are on their own story.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/RonOnealFresh/ Ron Oneal Fresh

    They definitely can't go down the ham route in the 2nd remake. The shadow of the Pacino/Depalma film looms big, they'll have to play it serious.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ben/ Ben

    I wonder how many people will think it is remake of the "classic" 83' version and not another remake from the 1932 one.

  • Xarnis

    I love the De Palma version of Scarface, but (shamefully) have never seen the original. a remake would be interesting, but I doubt they could top the '83 version.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Newbourne/ Newbourne

    in the name of authenticity

    What does that mean? How is it less authentic to cast Oscar Isaac in the role than an unknown?

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Hudsucker/ Hudsucker

    I feel like every generation is gonna have it's Scarface now. I think that's pretty cool.