Moving from Miami to L.A., the film will reimagine the iconic drug lord as a Mexican immigrant.
Seh hallo to the new Tony Montana. The upcoming Scarface remake has cast Diego Luna, hot and fresh off Rogue One, as a modern version of the iconic, profane, hubristic drug lord. This is what perfect casting looks like.
The reboot will update the core story of an immigrant arriving in the U.S. and clawing his way to the top of the criminal underground – this time focusing on a Mexican immigrant instead of a Cuban one, and taking place in L.A. rather than Miami. Needless to say, Luna’s casting is great news, at the very least because unlike definitely-not-Cuban Pacino, Mexican Scarface will be played by an actual Latino actor. This is a win for Latinx representation, an issue that was important to Luna in Rogue One.
The project has been struggling to lock down a director (Training Day’s Antoine Fuqua had to drop out because of scheduling conflicts with the Equalizer sequel), but Luna’s casting and a script from Boardwalk Empire and The Sopranos’ Terence Winter is encouraging. Regarding the script, Fuqua has said:
We still have those issues dealing with the “American Dream,” and the fact that the game is rigged, right? It’s not really an even playing field, but the promise is that it is… that’s relevant, especially when you’ve got people talking about putting up walls and other kinds of stuff. We’re still dealing with immigration, we’re still dealing with what would turn someone into Scarface.
To you folks out there mumbling that a Scarface remake is unwarranted, I hear you, but you’re wrong. While both previous Scarface films followed the same narrative arc, each uniquely reflected the concerns of their respective eras, acting as a template to explore contemporary concerns about illegal substances, gang activity, and immigration.
Howard Hawks’ pre-Code Scarface: The Shame of the Nation (1932) tells of the rise and fall of ambitious Italian immigrant and gangster Antonio “Tony” Camonte (a delightfully twitchy Paul Muni). Based on a novel of the same name, itself loosely patterned on the life of Al Capone, Hawks’ Scarface focuses on (then-active) prohibition, and the warring criminals who made it possible. In addition to being concerned with the illegal substances and the gang activity of 1932, the film comments on how such things related to a particular immigrant experience at the time. The interwar period saw an influx of impoverished Italian immigrants who, like Tony, were seduced by the promise that in America, you can, and deserve, to have it all.
Brian DePalma’s Scarface (1982) came with a new location, kingpin, and illegal product to suit the times – with Al Pacino as frenetic Cuban refugee Tony Montana, who takes both Miami and the cocaine world by storm. With an accessible core story of “what goes up must come down” (with the “up” not being all that enjoyable), like Hawks before him, De Palma set his Scarface in a specific, relevant climate: The Mariel Boatlift of 1980 allowed thousands of Cubans to immigrate to Florida, but also made possible an influx of narcotics from South America.
This precedent is what makes Scarface such a strong candidate for a remake; like the criminal activities and excess the story calls to task, Scarface adapts to suit the times. I think the new setting and take on Tony are brilliant, and I can’t wait to see Luna at work.
How the remake will modernize this outfit, however, I cannot say.