Salvador (1986)

Oliver Stone directs James Woods, James Belushi and Elpidia Carrillo in this true story of a sleazy photo journalist who travels back to El Salvador during a violent period of American backed civil unrest.

There’s no way this wasn’t going to be heavy handed. What is surprising, considering this is Oliver Stone’s first attempt in his genre of choice; the political drama, is how silly and accessible the first half is. Woods and Belushi drive down to the country of death squads and geopolitical corruption like they are Hunter S. Thompson and Dr Gonzo. I’m pretty sure they are supposed to be exactly that. Belushi’s character is called Dr Rock and he spends the entire movie boozing, fucking and scamming as if all the tragedy is happening a 1000 miles away and not at the table next to him. He literally gives his character the same scuzzball energy as his work in buddy cop films like Red Heat or K-9. Woods, obviously, is the far better actor and has the goods in his back pocket once all the assassinations, rapes and pits of dead innocents starts to niggle at his conscience. But even then his photo-journalist remains admirably unadmirable… hustling for drinking money, trying to get his girlfriend a passport and generally looking terrified when the war he’s come to photograph comes into focus. No white saviour narrative here, though it does become quite one note horrific in its second half.


Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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