Heroes on film – ultimate Anti-Hero Tony Montana – Scarface

Posted on 25 September 2017
By Pierce King
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Follow us on a journey into the heart of darkness, which beats deep inside the celluloid universe and gives birth to an army of bad guys – starting with one of the most vitriolic of them all – Tony Montana aka Scarface.

Scarface reached legendary status in popular culture upon it’s release for its memorable lines and epic end scene showing Tony Montana inhaling a mountain of coke whilst his garish mansion is swarmed with rival gangsters – before busting out to battle a barrage of bullets single handedly.

The iconic character also inspired a generation of young rappers to spark a verse in tribute of the Cuban gangster – with Tony’s rags to riches story serving as a blueprint for them to follow with their careers.

They have dedicated hip hop lines to him with: “I take over the streets fresh off the banana boat. I come straight from the east, where ni**as split your cantaloupe.”

“Born alone, die alone, no crew to keep my crown or throne. I’m deep by sound alone, caved inside, 1,000 miles from home.”

Rappers like Future, who said he mainly desired “to be respected out of the game” and hip hop legend Nas who cited an influence from the film – seeing parallels of ‘growing up in the inner city’ and followed Tony’s forthright and determined demeanor.

Future and Nas have openly cited Brain De Palma’s movie rags to riches story connected to their own rise to stardom. So Scarface can clearly be seen as a glorification of following the criminal lifestyle, where acts of murder, drug-taking and material wealth are glamourised.

But, the idea that Scarface romanticises the gangster life can also be seen as a misperception. Tony fell from the top as quickly as he rose in his quest to dominate Miami’s underworld with horrific consequences.

Essentially Scarface is a morality tale, unfolding the troubles of an immigrant wanting his part of the American dream at any cost.

The antagonist completely devotes himself to his cause, which is a clear reason Scarface appeals to so many viewers and you almost will him to beat the odds even after rolling out a rampage of death and destruction on his rise to the top of the mob.

One scene in particular stands out for many fans – featuring a drunk, drugged Tony Montana at a swanky restaurant shows more passion than any of the squares who try him as a Cuban pleb.

Walking out of the posh eatery – he turns and speaks his soliloquy to a captive audience:
“What you lookin’ at? You all a bunch of f**kin’ assholes. You know why? You don’t have the guts to be what you wanna be?

“You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your f**kin’ fingers and say, ‘That’s the bad guy.’ So… what that make you? Good? You’re not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don’t have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy!”

Foul-mouthed Tony directly attacks middle America, claiming the only reason they hate him is because they can’t be like him – they are bound to their lives and morals by fear. The world needs a bad guy in order to make themselves look good.

The power in this monologue is that Tony is showing that he knows exactly who he is and what he stands for – and more importantly how he appears to everyone else.

When his henchman subtly slip the waiter cash to let this all slide, it oozes arrogance. Tony learns in this one brilliant piece of film, that despite all his hard work getting to where he is, he is still just a lonely man talking to himself, a position he revisits at the point of death.

But Tony is at peace with this – he accepts it as a true reflection and fate of his actions.

This is the mark of the true baddie. To recognise your faults, to take pride in them and show them off in polite society. By this measure, in this scene, Tony Montana ranks right up there amongst Hollywood’s greatest bad guys.

Al Pacino was 42 when he played the role of Tony and was certainly old enough to lend enough life experience to the character. But Scarface does have his faults – so before you go running out to buy Versace Wallpaper
for your empire building boudoir – Let’s take into account the crisis of Tony’s actions.

If he had taken steps to protect and entrust those around him that were loyal to him on his rise to the top, perhaps he fall from grace wouldn’t have been so hard.

Take the example of his trusty sidekick Manny Ribera, played by Steven Bauer. If he only put his trust in Manny early on and was able to accept his amorous feelings for his sister – then he would have had a tight family unit to fall back on.

Tony’s isolation is ultimately his undoing. You can watch the famous ‘say hello to the bad guy’ scene in our video portal above.

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