Now that Dennis Hopper is dead, the undisputed title of largest amount of scenery chewed in a single movie belongs to Al Pacino. One also tries to think of a movie that has more over-the-top scenes, and nothing comes to me immediately. I admit I haven’t see the last twenty or so super-team movies, you know, X-Men, Justice League, Suicide Squad, Captain America, Kryptonian Deadly Debutantes, like that. So I don’t know how those famously bloody and destructive franchises stack up to Tony Montana shoveling powder cocaine into his nose with a snow shovel. But in the outrageously crazy final scene the man must have had more coke running through his veins than red blood cells. He snorts up a literal mountain of the stuff. He is then perforated with so many bullets from automatic weapons that he should be spurting that coke/blood mix like a Texas oil gusher. But he’s still standing!
They say this became a cult movie. I saw a story about it some years ago, which said that Tony is really the role model for pissant gangbangers in Los Angeles and other places. There are guys who had the whole movie memorized, they had seen it so many times. I thought at the time, “This is insane! The bastard is torn apart at the end!” And it is insane, but only in the context of the lives of these pathetic losers, which are insane, too. But for a while, man, Tony Montana had it all! A few years of making millions and buying Porches and living in a mansion that is almost as gaudy and is in almost as bad taste as Trump’s Florida whorehouse would be enough for these guys. They knew they are going to end in a hail of bullets, just like Butch and Sundance.
So this is the rags-to-riches saga of everybody’s favorite psychopath, Tony Montana, from Cuban refugee boat person to king of blow for the whole state. He says that all he has are “my balls and my word.” I guess that’s a philosophy of life, if you have absolutely no scruples about anything. He fears nothing, which is psychotic in itself. Such men can make effective soldiers, I guess, like our soon-to-be Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis, who is on record as saying “It’s fun to shoot some people.” I guess if you are a psychopath like that it’s a choice of either becoming a drug dealer or voting for Trump.
It’s actually a pretty good movie up to about two-thirds of the way through. It’s fascinating watching him go from a two-bit schmuck to the top of the world. But it really goes off the rails at the end. I know a lot of directors, including Martin Scorcese, have praised it, but I can’t. Oliver Stone wrote it, and Brian de Palma directed. So what do you get when you put our two craziest filmmakers together? You get Scarface.