Scarface ★★★★½

Nothing exceeds like excess, and very few things are as overblown, overwrought and, indeed, over the top as Brian DePalma's hysterical re-imagining of Scarface, based on a screenplay by Oliver Stone that transposed the comparatively sedate prohibition-era criminality of Howard Hawks' 1932 original for the drug-fuelled venality of the more-is-more culture of the 1980s. Set in a Miami flooded with Cuban refugees and blanketed by cocaine, the newly arrived Tony Montana, played by Al Pacino in a frenzied fit of grotesque pantomime, rapidly ascends to the top of the local drug business seemingly be sheer force of will. Such is the extent to which his actions are driven by animal instinct, the improbability of such a renegade narcissist rising so swiftly based on the unrestrained exercising of impulse at the expense of calculation, is better overlooked for this is not a film interested in realism so much as it is the indictment of a world that cultivates the kind of rampant depravity depicted. Mountains of coke, boundless blood-letting, tigers, chainsaws, incestuous desire, terrible fashions and awful dancing are each vividly captured in all of their garish glory, an out and out assault on taste and decency - and in so doing, DePalma arguably gets closer to the rotten, amoral core of organised crime than the grandiose opera of The Godfather, with its dutiful observance of ritual and governing structures, instead showcasing a lawless subculture that plays by no rules, operating unchecked completely outside the realm of civilisation where truly anything goes. As shrewdly astute as it is profoundly horrendous.