Salvador (1986)

Based on a true story.

A second-rate journalist from the US tries his luck in El Salvador during the military dictatorship in the 1980s.

You've become just like them.
Based around the real life experiences of journalist Richard Boyle, we are in 1980 and Boyle is not only in crisis torn El Salvador, he's also in it up to his neck.
It sometimes gets forgotten just what a great director Oliver Stone can be, strip away his ability to ruffle feathers on a seemingly perennial basis, and you find some pieces of work that are stark and striking for all the right reasons. Salvador is one such film, sometimes criminally forgotten, it remains to this day a searing tale of tension amongst the troubles of a Latin American hell hole. Boyle is right in amongst the implosion of a civil war, death squads and guerrillas from each side pull him from pillar to post as he tries to protect his Salvadorian girlfriend, while his friends and connections all are in peril purely for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Salvador triumphs mainly because Stone and his team have managed to capture all the building emotions of the main players, it's not just Boyle, it's the American government types, the press itself, and of course the crumbling Salvador people themselves, all things mold together in one big worrying pot boiler. James Woods plays Boyle and he is magnificent, managing to make an unlikeable character sympathetic, Woods (with Stone prompting for sure) clearly challenging himself to play out a career high. James Belushi also delivers his career best work, perfectly brusque and oblivious, his Dr Rock is the perfect foil for Woods' emotive Boyle. Then there is plaudits for Elpidia Carillo as Maria, charged with being the love interest amongst this carnage, she layers it perfectly for a very memorable performance.
Salvador bizarrely is at times a humorous picture, but the laughs are all of the uneasy kind, because ultimately Stone's attempt at getting into the nitty-gritty of troubled El Salvador, is a harsh, and at times, a humbling experience. 9/10

Hemdale Film by Oliver Stone, Richard Boyle.
Stars: James Woods, Jim Belushi, Michael Murphy, John Savage.

Genres: Drama, History, Thriller, War

Keywords: civil war dictator loss of loved one journalist guerrilla revolution civil rights war correspondent picture journalist el salvador dictatorship confession booth


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