scarface remake

It’s hard to get too worked up about Antoine Fuqua remaking Scarface. After all, Brian DePalma’s 1983 crime classic is a remake of Howard Hawks’ 1932 crime classic and, aside from the plot revolving around the rise and fall of a dangerous criminal, they couldn’t be more different from one another. Honestly, if someone wants to make a new Scarface ever 30 years or so to reflect the changing landscape of crime in America, I’d say just go for it. As long as each new filmmaker brings something new to the template, why not?

And from the sound of things, Fuqua’s film will align itself with what troubles us in 2016, using elements from the real world to explain the motivation of a new drug empire.

Speaking with Fandango, Fuqua explained the “timely” nature of the screenplay (which was rewritten last year by Straight Outta Compton‘s Jonathan Herman), which centers around a Mexican immigrant who turns to crime after the American Dream blows up in his face:

I read the script they have and it’s actually really interesting and very timely. We’re dealing with a lot of stuff now coming out of Mexico. And again, we still have those issues dealing with the “American Dream,” and the fact that the game is rigged, right? It’s not really an even playing field, but the promise is that it is. The promise is that everyone gets a fair shot, but that’s not always the case. So that’s always relevant, and right now with what’s happening in Mexico, which is where [the main character] comes from – he comes out of Mexico – that’s relevant, especially when you’ve got people talking about putting up walls and other kinds of stuff. We’re still dealing with immigration, we’re still dealing with what would turn someone into Scarface.

In the full interview, Fuqua elaborates, explaining that this new antihero is the end result of an already unstable guy being disenfranchised and disrespected by a system that hates him. This follows in the footsteps of the first two movies, which also centered on an immigrant making his way through the criminal underworld and cutting down anyone and everyone who underestimates him. The 1932 film used Al Capone as a template, with Paul Muni playing an Italian immigrant who builds his crime empire in Chicago. The 1983 film let Al Pacino cut loose as a Cuban immigrant who transforms himself from penniless crook into the lord of a cocaine empire. A new version is wise to use the drug war on the border between the United States and Mexico as a backdrop. If you want to create an origin story for a villain worthy of the Scarface name, there is nothing more terrifying. And if you want to give that villain some motivation…well, just look at the headlines on the politics website of your choosing.

I run hot and cold on Fuqua as a filmmaker (his filmography is littered with strong efforts like Training Day and unmitigated disasters like King Arthur), but I’m interested in seeing what he does with this material. I’m even more interested in seeing who he casts as his lead – a Scarface movie without an unforgettable lead performance isn’t a Scarface movie at all.

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