Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. United Kingdom/USA, 1986. Estudios Churubusco Azteca S.A., Hemdale. Screenplay by Oliver Stone, Rick Boyle. Cinematography by Robert Richardson. Produced by Gerald Green, Oliver Stone. Music by Georges Delerue. Production Design by Bruno Rubeo. Costume Design by Kathryn Morrison. Film Editing by Claire Simpson. Academy Awards 1986. Independent Spirit Awards 1986. New York Film Critics Awards 1986.
Exceptional, invigorating film by Oliver Stone that is his best accomplishment after Platoon (both of which came out the same year). James Woods is superb as Richard Boyle, a photojournalist who can’t keep body and soul together in New York and so decides to head down to El Salvador with his buddy (James Belushi) and cover the civil war there. What he discovers during his rather unorthodox investigations is a corrupt social situation that is being fueled by the Reagan administration’s complicit involvement. Risking his own life on numerous occasions, Woods does everything possible to get his girlfriend (Elpidia Carrillo) and her son out of the country and to safety in the U.S., but getting the documents for their departure is no end of trouble for all of them. John Savage is also marvelous as a kindly photojournalist who helps Boyle out and risks his neck more than once. This film’s convincing atmosphere is terrifying, and while there will be audience members who contest its validity (some of whom will probably be right), it’s still the most believable outrageousness (after Platoon) that Stone has ever created.