Scarface ★★★½

Scarface was not a DePalma favorite of mine at first, yet it's intoxicating once you've accepted the offensive elements (chainsaws, one-dimensional rioting Cubans, flamboyant bathtubs) and just come to admire the scope of its ambition and the limitless grandiosity of Al Pacino's performance. As Cuban refugee Tony Montana who makes a rip-roaring splash in Miami, Pacino is so over-the-top in cocaine that when he's in that mansion shoot-out, getting hit by bullets from every direction, he's so coked out he's impervious to pain.

Michelle Pfeiffer is the hardened gangster moll, having a ball playing an absolute spoiled bitch. Our anti-hero makes Pfeiffer his whore as immediately as possible, while he hysterically goes overboard do everything to keep his blood sister Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio from becoming any slightest of a whore, one of his bizarre obsessions. One can find Scarface bombastically exhausting at moments, but Pacino is reckless in his acting, always chewing the scenery, loudly bellowing while high on drugs and [money], verbally or physically attacking others belligerently to no end, until there is an end and everyone in Miami seems to want him dead. Holy Mackerel! That climax is DePalma at his most savagely ultraviolent!

From a script by Oliver Stone, who seemed to want to throw in the kitchen sink to excavate everything that had to be said about the Miami cartels of the 80's, yet the writing itself has such addled restlessness and no compass that the end result the scenes, the words, the texture can feel frantic. To enjoy Scarface you just have to be in it to enjoy its maniacal excesses from top to bottom, from start to finish. The torrential electronic music score is by Giorgio Moroder ("Midnight Express," "Top Gun").

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