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A ‘Scarface’ reboot is coming but it’s not going to be easy

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Sam Diss
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With Quentin Tarantino apparently prepping a new movie, fans of films they were really, really into in their mid-teens rejoice as more good news hovers on the horizon with a reimagining of Scarface announced. But how do you reboot a film as iconic as Brian De Palma’s 1983 remake of Howard Hawk’s 1932 film? Well, it would appear not easily. 

David Ayer, the man behind last year’s Suicide Squad, had signed on to write and direct the reboot De Palma’s cult film but has since departed the production after producers said his take on the screenplay was “too dark”, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Too dark? The original remake had a dude chopped in half with a chainsaw and saw Pacino stuff so much chisel into his beak that, by all rights, his eyeballs should’ve popped out of his head way before the film’s notoriously bloody climax. 

But anyway, Ayer’s gone and joins a stellar list of people who’ve exited the project: First, Antoine Fuqua, director of the Academy Award-winning Training Day, was signed up to direct with Boadwalk Empire and The Sopranos writer Terrence Winter on script duties. Then Rogue One’s brilliant Diego Luna signed up to star in the Pacino role with none other than The Coen Brothers agreeing to script… But still it all fell apart. Hell or High Water director David MacKenzie and Patriots Day’s Peter Berg have also been mooted, but ultimately didn’t come to pass.

The trouble with taking on such an iconic property as Scarface is that, well, it’s very, very hard. Big, balls-out gangster movies tend not to be made with the same giddy abandon anymore, and certainly aren’t the surefire box-office wins they used to be, and people expect a certain level of dutiful care when representing reprehensible criminals on screen: that’s why the cat-and-mouse of cops-versus-robbers movies has been so prevalent in the last decade – it allows us to feel that at least someone has noticed that bad shit is going down and is trying to stop it, gifting us a pass to watch the carnage unfold guilt free. Will audiences still line up to see a guy go and wreak havoc on an apparently police-less Miami armed with a machine gun, a white-powdered nose, and a Hawaiian shirt? 

That said, probably the closest recent cousin of Scarface was Martin Scorsese’s A Wolf Of Wall Street and that one quickly achieved Instant Classic™ status (and was written by Terence Winter...) so perhaps mainstream movie audience’s appetite for celluloid cocaine-fueled criminality retains sparks of life, but such a film requires a whole lot of talent from creatives and a whole lot of leeway from producers (and someone with the clout of Leo Di Caprio out front) or else you’re ending up with a hot mess. 

Still, a title like Scarface remains one great big chicken jus’ waitin’ to be plucked and we hope this one finds the light of day eventually. 

(Main Image: Scarface (1983) / Universal Pictures)

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Sam Diss

The Associate Editor of New Projects at ShortList, Sam enjoys making up words to annoy editors, writing features about sports, music, weird things, and cool people, and listening to Mark Morrison's 'Return Of The Mack'. He's also a fairly capable centreback. Follow Sam on Twitter: @SamDiss

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