THE PLOT THUS FAR
In 1980 Miami, a determined Cuban immigrant takes over a drug cartel while succumbing to greed.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
Tony Montana wanted what he felt was coming to him, and he wanted it now; and from the moment he stepped off the boat in Florida, he was determined to have it all. Wealth and power– that was Montana’s dream, and he would get it by doing what he did best, beginning with a favor for a man living in Miami by the name of Frank Lopez. Lopez, it seems, had a brother in Cuba who had met an untimely end at the hands of one of Castro’s goons, a man who, having outlived his usefulness to Castro, had been summarily discarded and was currently being held in `Little Havana,’ along with Montana and all of the Cubans just off the boats, where they awaited their papers from the government that would effect their transition into their new lives. And in short order, Montana sees to it that Lopez’s brother has been avenged, and it sets the stage for his own entrance into the underworld of America.
Lopez, a wealthy businessman with the right connections, in return for the favor gets Montana and his friend, Manny (Steven Bauer), released from the holding camp, and puts them to work. In his day, Capone may have had bootlegging as a means through which to line his coffers with illicit gain, but Lopez has the modern day equivalent, and it’s even more lucrative: Cocaine. Lopez takes Montana under his wing and indoctrinates him into the life, but once he has a taste of it, Montana isn’t satisfied with whatever crumbs Lopez sees fit to throw his way, and he sets a course that will take him to where he wants to be: At the `top.’ With a cold-blooded, iron will, Montana decides he’ll do whatever it takes to get there, no matter what the cost.
This isn’t Brian DePalma’s strongest directorial effort, it is occasionally excellent and well-handled, but frequently sinks to sloppy and misled. Thankfully, it is supported by a very strong script by Oliver Stone. The themes are consistent, with the focus primarily on the life of Tony Montana, and the evolution of his character as he is consumed by greed and power. The dialogue is also excellent, see-sawing comfortably between humour and drama. There are many stand-out lines, which have since wormed their way into popular culture in one form or another.
The cast help make it what it is as well, but this is really Pacino’s film. One of his earlier less subtle performances, this is a world entirely separate from Michael Corleone and Frank Serpico. Yet he is as watchable here as ever, in very entertaining form. It is hard to imagine another Tony Montana after seeing this film, in possibly one of the most mimicked performances ever. Pfeiffer stood out as dull and uncomfortable on first viewing, but I’ve come to realize how she plays out the part of the bored little wife.
The Blu-Ray comes with the best DTS-HD track I’ve heard in years. The 7.1 dynamic audio mix shows a range far beyond what I expected from a classic release and I have to say that it makes the most of the original audio elements. The rest of the featurettes and related materials are a hodge podge of the various Platinum and Special Editions released since the advent of DVD. The swearing scorecard is back, but you also get new looks into the impact of the film on rap culture.
However, I do have to bring up the 1080p transfer and how plagued it is with DNR. While the film wasn’t the best shot picture of 1983, it has come to Home Video in various conditions. The original print from the 1998 Special Edition DVD was pretty rough and sported almost no field of depth. However, this transfer seems to look like it’s been remastered and refined to the point of almost destroying smaller elements of the film. Dark scenes and levels of off-black colors are shown in such a haze that you almost can’t see people getting their heads cut off. Oh well, it’s still worth a purchase.
RELEASE DATE: 09/06/2011