Salvador Movie Review

It's like two Hunter Thompson characters come to life. In Oliver Stone's harrowing Salvador, James Woods and James Belushi play two real-life guys named Richard Boyle and "Doctor Rock." Boyle's a down on his luck journalist (I mean way down). Rock's a San Francisco deejay. Together they take El Salvador by storm in an unforgettable musical!

Okay, scratch that last bit. Salvador is actually a gripping docu-drama about the horrors of the revolution in that country in the mid-1980s. From raped nuns to the mass dumping of dead bodies, Stone's gaze is unflinching on the horrors that occurred, and Wood's Boyle is there to document it all, despite an utter lack of charisma, money, or morality.

But as we learn about the atrocities in Latin America, we also see Boyle's backbone strengthen, and Salvador's new DVD release lets you experience for yourself the torture that the cast and crew went through to get this small gem made. On Stone's commentary track, he breaks from his usual narration M.O. and instead waxes about the production troubles and budget cheats he took -- saying that just this once, the ends justified the lying means it took to get the picture made. In a great documentary about the making of the film, Woods sounds flabbergasted that he even made it through, professing that he was almost killed on the set and stormed off in a rage during another incident (also involving safety). An extra half hour of deleted scenes are alternately fun and gruesome.

Salvador will likely always be a minor masterpiece in Stone's canon of work, but it's a solid, if ultimately narrow, effort. In fact, Stone would find himself competing with himself (over Platoon) for 1986's Best Screenplay Oscar. He would win neither, as Woody Allen got the trophy for Hannah and Her Sisters. Now that's war.


Salvador Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: R, 1986


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