A journalist, down on his luck in the US, drives to El Salvador to chronicle the events of the 1980 military dictatorship, including the assasination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. He forms an... See full summary »
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A journalist, down on his luck in the US, drives to El Salvador to chronicle the events of the 1980 military dictatorship, including the assasination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. He forms an uneasy alliance with both guerillas in the countryside who want him to get pictures out to the US press, and the right-wing military, who want him to bring them photographs of the rebels. Meanwhile he has to find a way of protecting his Salvadorean girlfriend and getting her out of the country. Written by
Tony Bowden <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"You'll love it here, Doc. You can drive drunk. You can get anybody killed for fifty bucks." - Rick Boyle
'Salvador' is the extremely controversial filmmaker, Oliver Stone's, first film, and is it any surprise it has to do with politics? Yes, pretty much all of Mr. Stone's films have a strong political message in them (for example: JFK, Nixon, Born on the Fourth of July, Natural Born Killers, Heaven & Earth, Wall Street, etc.) His first major film (not counting his dreadfully mediocre low-budget debut horror film 'The Hand), 'Salvador' explores and follows the conflict of military dictatorship and genocide taking place in El Salvador in the year 1980. Although it's a very in-your-face picture and has to do with debatable political hardships, 'Salvador' is a great, powerful and heart wrenching picture that will stay with you a long time after you view it. Even though 'Salvador' is one of Oliver Stone's least famous flicks, it ranks up there with one of his best films.
The movie chronicles the life of real-life photojournalist Rick Boyle (played by James Woods). Boyle's life is falling apart all around him and he's almost completely broke, so he decides to go to El Salvador, to kick it with his best friend, Doctor Rock (played by SNL alumni James Belushi). Boyle and Doc Rock figure El Salvador will be the perfect vacation place, but what they don't realize is that the country going through one of the most violent acts of genocide in world history will effect them. In El Salvador, Boyle meets up with his girlfriend, a native, Maria (Elphidia Carillo), an old friend whose a reporter from Newsday, John Cassady (Carnivale's John Savage), and Cathy Moore, a Catholic nun who works as a lay worker (Cynthia Gibb). While relaxing in the so-called paradise, Boyle begins to realize the atrocities around him and makes a hard decision to try to make a difference, severely risking his life and the lives of the people around him.
'Salvador' isn't a masterpiece, but it's a film of such ferocious power and intensity that it's impossible not to notice. The real life Rick Boyle and Oliver Stone round out a scorching screenplay, and Stone does an awesome job behind the camera. James Woods is magnificent as Boyle, and deserved his Oscar nomination. John Belushi not only provides us with a usual comedic performance, but puts in a lot of dramatic aspects to his character showing that Belushi has more depth than most people realize as an actor. John Savage, post-Deer Hunter, is a pleasure to watch as always, and Independent Spirit Award Nominee Elphidia Carillo, turns in a fine performance as Boyle's love interest. The film also features Michael Murphy as the U.S. ambassador in El Salvador.
When it all is over, 'Salvador' proves to be a great film, but not an excellent one. The film has minor flaws like dragging a little, and sometimes not getting down to the point. It's Stone's first film (second if you count that crap, 'The Hand), and he does a damn fine job with it. If you haven't already, and don't mind a powerhouse of a film, go to your local videostore and rent 'Salvador'. Trust me, you'll like it. Grade: B+
MADE MY TOP 300 LIST AT #238
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