Salvador | Chicago Reader

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Writer-director Oliver Stone has created an alternative to the violent, orgasmic right-wing fantasies like Rambo and Rocky IV—his film is a violent, orgasmic left-wing fantasy. James Woods stars as Richard Boyle, a marginal freelance journalist who flees to the troubled title country when his marriage breaks up; he gets high on the cheap drugs and booze, but he gets his real rush from the danger of inserting himself between the bloodthirsty military death squads and the faceless Marxist guerrillas who are fighting for control of the impoverished landscape. Stone works some imaginative changes on the usual formulas of propagandistic fiction—Boyle is anything but the usual bland audience-identification figure, waiting around to be converted to the ideological position of the filmmakers—but as a director, he still didn't have the chops to bring off such an ambitious, multilayered project: the picture lunges into hysterical incoherence every few minutes, and Stone must resort to platitudinous simplifications to clear things up. It's lively, though, to say the very least. With Jim Belushi, Michael Murphy, John Savage, and Elpedia Carrillo.

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