Salvador (1986)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Political Thriller  |   Release Date - Mar 5, 1986 (USA)  |   Run Time - 123 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Michael Betzold

Salvador may be Oliver Stone's best film, even if it is one of his least known and commercially disappointing. Released in the same year as Stone's more acclaimed Platoon, Salvador takes a rare, politically volatile subject -- the U.S.-backed war in El Salvador -- and gives audiences a thrill-a-minute ride through the eyes of its unlikely protagonist, photographer Richard Boyle (James Woods). The reliable Woods is terrific, given room to roam by Stone in a complex and unforgiving role, and James Belushi as his friend is a dramatic surprise. The film is compelling both as a semi-autobiographical account of a risk-taking, globe-trotting photojournalist (Stone wrote the screenplay with Boyle) and as a mesmerizing political horror story. It's comparable in some ways to Missing, as one of a few mainstream American films to examine the United States's Latin American foreign policy and its impact on peoples' lives. Salvador marked Stone as a political maverick with a dazzling directorial style, as kinetic and frenetic as it would be in his later work.