The dominant mood of the film is anything but funny. It is bleak and futile: What goes up must always come down. When it comes down in Scarface, the crash is as terrifying as it is vivid and arresting.
What were Pacino's detractors hoping for? Something internal and realistic? Low key? The Tony Montana character is above all a performance artist, a man who exists in order to gloriously be himself.
This almost Jacobean tale of drug gangsters in 1980s Miami is rather too long for the points it makes, but is nevertheless riveting and still, after 26 years, remarkably fresh.