Al Pacino as Scarface

Universal announces a new writer on “Scarface” remake

Back in July of 2012, Universal announced plans to remake “Scarface.”

Recently, they revealed that writers Paul Attanasio (“Donnie Brasco”) and David Ayer (“Training Day”) gave it a shot, and now Jonathan Herman (“Straight Outta Compton”) is at bat.

Before you get your Spider-Man Underoos in a bunch about yet another remake, as I explained in my previous post on “Scarface,” it’s possible to make a remake that’s not only good but has a life of its own.

For those of you who didn’t catch the previous article, here’s the gist.

Why De Palma’s “Scarface” works as a remake

The Brian De Palma-directed “Scarface” is a remake of the 1932 Paul Muni-starring vehicle of the same name.

I’ll wait for you non-movie buffs to digest that.

De Palma’s “Scarface” works because it utilized the core parts of the original film, but placed it squarely in (for then) modern times in a new setting.

How to make a good (third) “Scarface”

Though it is sad Hollywood is going down the well-trodden remake path again, it is possible to take a story like “Scarface” and give it an original sheen.

The producers of the new version must remember the rags-to-riches tale, utilize set pieces from the original films, and give it a modern take based on something relevant to today’s audiences.

The video game genre has already proven the validity of the technique. Take the “Grand Theft Auto” series from Rockstar Games. The breakout title, “GTA III,” turned on the story of a New York criminal. Sequels included a Russian-ish mobster, a Los Angeles-styled gangsta and, ironically, a flashback to the streets of Miami/ Vice City that played like “Scarface.”

All the same basic story of small guy rises through crime, but the variety of settings and ethnicities keeps things interesting.

Keeping with the criminal theme, the new “Scarface” could find itself in the world of the Mexican drug cartels. Picture the flash of the Mexican underworld, with a young man rising in the corrupt world of the illegal marijuana, immigration and the gun trades.

Give Robert Rodriguez the camera with a Quentin Tarantino script and let them loose.

The tale could also flow from the favelas of Brazil, where cocaine is still in high demand as an import and the glitz of Rio de Janeiro provides a backdrop as exciting as Tony Montana’s Miami. Check out this trailer for “Elite Squad” to see how well that could work (sorry it’s only in SD).

The story could also take us to the streets of Hong Kong, where the Triads provide all the civil liberties the Chinese government seeks to deny the people. It’d be just like Prohibition in America with a Communist slant. Plus, there’s the chance to provide a John Woo throwback.

What Universal decided (so far)

These are but a few off the cuff examples of setting and situation for a “Scarface” remake.  Since I wrote this article back in 2012, Universal has revealed their plans to set this third “Scarface” in Los Angeles, following a Mexican immigrant and his rise within the drug world.

So, I sorta nailed it, huh? That’s what happens when I think out loud.

For more on the new “Scarface,” check out this article at Collider.

For those interested, here’s the trailer for the original “Scarface.”

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