Reaction was decidedly… mixed when it was announced earlier this fall that Universal is planning a Scarface remake. Fans of Brian De Palma’s 1983 cult-classic crime-drama (featuring an equally classic turn by Al Pacino) have been extremely resolute in their opinion that the film not be given the dreaded Hollywood modern makeover – despite the fact that De Palma’s film was itself a remake of the 1932 Howard Hawks/Richard Rosson film of the same name. But I digress.
No matter where you stand on the issue of whether or not Scarface deserves an update, the film is nonetheless being remade, and Universal has tapped a writer to begin crafting the new version – said writer being none other than Training Day scriber David Ayer.
Deadline had the exclusive on Ayer being hired for script work on Scarface; the writer is certainly an appropriate choice: In addition to writing Training Day, Ayer has a handful of gritty urban cops-and-robbers action/dramas under his belt, including The Fast and the Furious, Dark Blue, and S.W.A.T. He also directed Street Kings and both wrote and directed the acclaimed film Harsh Times.
If you can’t tell from that rundown, Ayer is a man who pretty much lives and breathes urban crime dramas – making him a perfect fit for this project.
Word is that Ayer will once again update the story of Scarface for modern times, and will not adhere to anything but the basic premise of the previous films, both of which involved a gangster going from lowly beginnings to the heights of crime, before inevitably being undone by his own vices. Given the current state of the world, a Scarface set in Los Angeles (the city Ayer loves) featuring a cartel or street gang would be my bet. But again, I digress…
Check out what Ayer had to say to Deadline on the subject of the remake:
“This is a fantasy for me, I can still remember when I saw the film at 13 and it blew my mind, I sought it out; I went after it hard. I see it as the story of the American dream, with a character whose moral compass points in a different direction. That puts it right in my wheelhouse. I studied both the original Ben Hecht-Howard Hawks movie and the DePalma-Pacino version and found some universal themes. I’m still under the hood figuring out the wiring that will translate, but both films had a specificity of place, there was unapologetic violence, and a main character who socially scared the shit out of people, but who had his own moral code. Each was faithful to the underworld of its time. There are enough opportunities in the real world today that provide an opportunity to do this right. If it was just an attempt to remake the 1983 film, that would never work.”
Ayer is certainly putting a lot of pressure on his shoulders right now: in addition to remaking a beloved film like Scarface, the screenwriter is also working hard on the remake of another popular ’80s flick – namely, the Arnold Schwarzenegger cult-classic, Commando. He’d better be careful where he wanders around the Internet for the next few months, lest he drown in all negativity the remake-haters will almost surely be throwing his way.
We’ll keep you updated on the status of the Scarface remake as more news rolls in.