Scarface (1983)

Directed by Brian De Palma

After getting a green card in exchange for assassinating a Cuban government official, Tony Montana stakes a claim on the drug trade in Miami. Viciously murdering anyone who stands in his way, Tony eventually becomes the biggest drug lord in the state, controlling nearly all the cocaine that comes through Miami. But increased pressure from the police, wars with Colombian drug cartels and his own drug-fueled paranoia serve to fuel the flames of his eventual downfall.

[Brian De Palma’s films are] an achievement of a kind, to fashion an art that appeals to the purist, the hooligan, and nobody else.

Martin Amis


De Palma, whose pattern of alternating between setbacks and triumphs is like a tarnished badge of honor, triumphed at the box office in 1983 with Scarface, which provided a preemptive answer to Nancy Reagan’s catchy, sloganeering 1984 antidrug campaign. If Al Pacino’s gun-toting, empire-building, powder-fingered Tony Montana had a motto, it would have been “Just Say Yes.”

Adam Nayman (The Ringer)