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According to Deadline, David Ayer (Training Day, Harsh Times, Street Kings) has been hired to write a reboot/update of Scarface for Universal Pictures.

The update is supposed to put a contemporary spin on the outlaw tale that was first released in 1932, which was directed by Howard Hawks and starred Paul Muni as an Italian who took over the Chicago underworld. The 1983 Brian DePalma directed remake starred Al Pacino as Tony Montana, a Cuban who takes over the cocaine underworld in early 1980’s Miami.

The studio set up the project back in September and from the get-go the intention has been to combine the themes of the first two films with a contemporary crime context. So, the story will follow an immigrant who breaks into the crime establishment and rises to the top through ruthless violence and ambition.

Ayer spoke with Deadline about the new project and stated, “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 can 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 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 translaste, but both films has 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 it’s 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.”

It’s good news that both Universal and Ayer seem to be on the same page about not making a direct remake of the 1983 film and are instead updating the ideas from the previous two films… hopefully this one will also feature a new main character.

While the DePalma/Pacino Scarface is iconic and a well made film, it’s hugely overrated and not even close to being one of DePalma’s best films.

It will be interesting to see if Ayer can bring anything new to the table with this project. I’m probably one of the few people who actually thinks Harsh Times is a good movie, but then he followed it up with Street Kings.

Ayer is finishing up directing his third feature End of Watch, which he also wrote. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as two LAPD partners and best friends who navigate their work and personal lives. Ayer is looking to screen it for domestic distributors by the end of the year.

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