While many films depict millionaires or survivalists, they rarely depict both. Unless, of course, it’s a classic rags-to-riches story. One such film stands out because it follows a character whose sole talent is survival. After surviving as a soldier in Castro’s Cuba, followed by a rough boat ride to America, we watch his rise from obscurity to prominence as a gritty drug lord on the streets of Miami. Consequently, he forges an empire that could only be brought down by one person- himself.
Today on Rob Raskins’ Millionaire Survivalist, we’ll consider the meteoric rise and fall of Tony Montana in the classic film “Scarface.” He’s a prime example of what’s possible when you combine survivalism with ambition and arrive at a success built on excess, the latter of which would be his downfall.
The Rise and Fall of a Great Survivalist
Anyone familiar with this film is certainly appreciative of the amazing performance by the famous “method actor,” Al Pacino, who never touches a role without leaving some skin in the game, literally and figuratively. In the famous scene where he held the automatic weapon and yelled, “Say hello to my little friend!” he just finished burning his hand on the hot muzzle of the gun after really shooting it.
As the film’s central character, Tony lies to US authorities about not being on the boat Castro sent from Cuba to avoid being sent to a refugee camp. After intense interrogation, Tony proves he can’t be broken. He never stammers, stutters, or blinks. As a result, he’s released. Later, we see him quit his job as a fry cook to assist a drug dealer, only to watch a guy get his arm buzzed off with a chainsaw.
Tony quickly gains a reputation on the streets as a guy who can be trusted. When he sees an opportunity to make a deal with a heavy-hitter, Tony passes the man’s test of trust by stating, “All I have in this world is my word.” So, what forges the beginning of alliance with power makes Tony the # 1 coke dealer in the Miami Beach disco scene.
He becomes a kingpin, has people killed, commands respect, and gets the life of his dreams- a beautiful home, car, wife, his own disco, and enjoys the best of everything- including a golden hot tub (classy). His inescapable paranoia of being caught drives his excess and subsequent errors that bring about his downfall. He loses his cousin, his sister, his respect and standing in his business, and finally, his life.
On the day Tony meets his end, sitting at his desk with an ant pile of cocaine, surveillance shows the hostile invasion of his home by assassins. He gears up for war by grabbing an automatic weapon and attacking from his balcony. In the end, there’s only one person who never abandoned him, no matter how bad things got- himself. It proved to be not enough.
While his survival skills were of the highest order, they’re no match for the unsustainable path he chose in life. If Tony Montana can’t hold a tiger by the tail forever, no one can. And that should be the lesson for a film like this. There are some games that can only be won by not playing. The goal of a real survivalist is to protect your family, your way of life, and your options for the future. Tony’s plan failed because he wasn’t equipped for life after survival. His greatest strength proved to be his tragic flaw.