Reviewed By Rob Gonsalves
Posted 04/04/07 22:34:59

"James Woods fans don't have any business missing this."
5 stars (Awesome)

One of Oliver Stone’s best films, and absolutely James Woods’ best performance.

As real-life photojournalist Richard Boyle, a scroungy fuck-up who bullshits his way around El Salvador during the ‘80-’81 turmoil, Woods sets a new standard for sheer scumminess — but also forces us to sympathize with Boyle from the very first shot. James Belushi (in his best performance) is Dr. Rock, a slob druggie who accompanies Boyle to Salvador and spends the whole movie wanting to get the hell out.

Worthy of the Hunter S. Thompson book it most resembles (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), the movie is scrappy, undisciplined gonzo journalism; Stone tosses in a few facts (the rape-murder of the nuns, the assassination of Archbishop Romero) and stirs them up in a hot stew of sensationalism. Like most Stone films, Salvador tells you what to think and is fairly shameless (so is Georges Delerue’s awful score), but it’s compulsively, convulsively watchable and unforgettable, with a classic confessional-booth scene that’s required viewing for all Woods fans.

Many think this was Stone’s directorial debut. It wasn’t; he’d previously made 'Seizure' (1974) and 'The Hand' (1981), two bizarre and not especially successful horror movies.

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