While Salvador wasn't Oliver Stone's first film (a pair of offbeat horror stories preceded it), it defined his style of fiercely dramatic, politically oriented filmmaking, staked out his territory as one of the major directors of… More While Salvador wasn't Oliver Stone's first film (a pair of offbeat horror stories preceded it), it defined his style of fiercely dramatic, politically oriented filmmaking, staked out his territory as one of the major directors of the 1980s and 1990s, and remains one of his strongest works to date. Veteran photojournalist Richard Boyle (James Woods) has been taking his camera to the world's trouble spots for over 20 years; while he does good work, Boyle's fondness for booze and drugs, and his colossal arrogance, have given him a reputation that's left him practically unemployable. Broke and with no immediate prospects, Boyle and his buddy Doctor Rock (Jim Belushi), an out-of-work disc jockey, head to El Salvador, where Boyle is convinced that he can scare up some lucrative freelance work amidst the nation's political turmoil. However, when Boyle and Rock witness the execution of a student by government troops just as they enter the country, it becomes clear that this war is more serious than they were expecting. Increasingly convinced that El Salvador is a disaster starting to happen, Boyle eventually decides that it's time to get out; but he has fallen in love with a woman named Maria (Elpidia Carrillo), and he doesn't want to leave her behind. James Woods gives one of his best performances as Boyle; and the passion of Stone's message, aided by the power of its truth (the film is based on actual events), propels the film forward. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Consensus: Despite its somewhat disjointed narrative, Oliver Stone's Salvador is a vivid and powerful political drama that sets an early tone for the director's similarly provocative future projects.