Some actors are at their best when they’re working quietly, allowing audiences to read the subtle emotions on every line of their face and every nuance in their movements. But some actors are at their best when they’re yelling in people’s faces, eyes wide with fury. Al Pacino, thankfully, is a guy who is at the peak of his considerable powers in either of those camps.
But it’s the screaming intensity many have grown to love from Al Pacino, with the uniquely shouty cadence of his best movies turning one of the best actors alive today into a meme as well as a maestro in front of the camera. On that note, Scarface is new on Netflix.
Scarface is, in our view, the peak of the louder Pacino movies. Among the best ’80s movies, it benefits from the blood-soaked bombast of director Brian de Palma, as well as Pacino’s wide-eyed evocation of the ruthlessly ambitious Cuban drug dealer and Miami crime lord Tony Montana.
The movie follows Montana as he arrives in Miami on a refugee boat from Cuba before quickly carrying out a murder on the orders of drug lord Frank Lopez. Before long, Montana is his right-hand man and is casting his ruthless eye to the very top of the Florida cocaine trade.
As well as Pacino, the cast includes a brilliant Michelle Pfeiffer performance and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio dialing up the melodrama as Tony’s sister Gina.
The movie was a solid box office success in 1983, but was broadly reviled by critics for its graphic violence and record-breaking profanity. Its accolade for the most F-bombs in a movie has since been broken by the likes of The Wolf of Wall Street and Uncut Gems.
De Palma was even nominated for Worst Director at the Razzies as a mark of how widely disliked Scarface was at the time. However, its legacy has only grown in the 40 years since it first hit cinemas and it has become one of the signature Pacino roles.
It’s a mark of Pacino’s skill as an actor and, specifically, his ability to embody someone larger than life on screen. Yes, Pacino has done quieter and more complex work both before and since, but Scarface is Peak Pacino and deserves to be respected as such. Scarface is now firmly lodged among the best Netflix movies on the service, so there’s no excuse not to revisit it.
For more on this movie, find out why Michelle Pfeiffer made Al Pacino bleed before they even shot Scarface. You can also learn about Al Pacino’s most controversial Godfather opinion and look ahead to the most exciting new movies by reading our Killers of the Flower Moon review or learning about The Marvels and the Dune 2 release date.