First announced a couple of months ago, many hoped Universal‘s attempt to reboot their “Scarface” franchise would fall to the wayside, but it seems they are quite serious about not only making it happen, but getting it ready sooner than we thought. Following in the footsteps of Oliver Stone, Ben Hecht and Howard Hawks is…David Ayer. Deadline reports he’s been tasked with writing the screenplay for the upcoming film.
While you might think the material isn’t exactly the most thematic or narratively rich, Ayer tells the site that he’s studied the 1983 and 1982 movies very closely, and discovered a lot that we already knew that he apparently didn’t. “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,” he explains. “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.”
Well, we’re at least glad to hear he’s not going to try and replicate the now iconic (even if wildly overrated) 1983 movie. But that wasn’t really the plan anyway, as when the project was first unveiled, Universal assured that it would essentially be a contemporary version of the story, likely with new characters, setting etc. But Ayer is an interesting choice.
Unlike both Stone and Hawks, Ayer is certainly less adventurous. Most of his Hollywood career both as a writer and director has been spent making an endless stream of cop movies (“Training Day,” “Harsh Times,” “Street Kings“) that haven’t been particularly unique. He doesn’t come to the project with a distinct voice, and that’s the sort of thing this franchise reboot needs. But then again, he will likely to be the first of a litany of people to put their hands on this, so who knows how it will shape up.
But before he gets to work on ‘Scarface,’ Ayer is wrapping up his latest police drama “End Of Watch” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena. This one does offer something a bit different, as it will utilize both conventional and a found footage/POV aesthetic to tell the tale. But whether or not that tale is simply a rehash of what’s come before or something new, we’ll have to wait and see. He’ll roll it in front of test audiences soon before trying to find a distributor, and after that, he’ll be focused on the money, power and women of “Scarface.”