Deported to the US in 1980, Cuban Tony Montana (Al Pacino) kills his way to the top of the illegal drugs trade.
Written by Oliver Stone, this inspired remake of the 1932 Paul Muni film gave Pacino one of the defining roles of his career. Flamboyant, extremely foul-mouthed (with some 150 uses of the F-word alone) and furiously funny, he goes into manic overdrive as a hustler who carves out his own twisted version of the American Dream. Spitting out his dialogue at a Tommy-gun pace and sporting a range of ‘medallion man’ suits, he hits an aggressive high in almost every scene.
The phrase ‘over-the-top’ hardly does justice to his final shootout, while his bloody initiation (complete with chainsaw) into the ways of American gangsterdom is equally unforgettable.
Michelle Pfeiffer is impressively ice-cool as his sneering wife, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (with a very unfortunate hairstyle) plays his sister and Steven Bauer is his key sidekick.
A film that makes a showy virtue of excess, its corrosively cynical attitude to the drugs trade, relationships and and life in general is often overpowering, but the steamroller effect of Pacino’s energetic performance carries all before him.