8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
The oliver stone you overlooked, 14 Dec 2005
WHAT A MASTERPIECE! An unrelenting rollercoater of a ride that tightens your attention with every scene.
After a remarkable and aggresisve opening score that hints at what is ahead, there follows an easy and uncomplicated start introducing the anti hero, the washed up amoral photo journalist Richard Boyle (James Woods) casually making one final throw of his career dice: a trip with Doctor Rock (James Belushi) to El Salvador to cover growing civil unrest. Within minutes the ride accelerates; through Wood's camera lens, all the characters of a civil war unfold (the secret police/the innocent/the soldiers/the church/the death squads/the culture of both sides). The genius of Stone here is that he perfectly combines the micro (the effect on individual emotions and daily lives) with the bigger issues (the method of decision making and impact of US foreign policy). There are a few big twists along the way and they are shocking and yes, depressing. John Savage gives a great performance as the fearless war photographer John Cassady. The approach to the climax is gripping - as civil war intesifies, Stone focuses the lens further into Woods: his changing emotions, his move from an observer to a participating victim, his frantic attempts to help those around him. The pace just gets faster with every minute.
Overall, a film that sharpely portrays individual brutality and abuse of power. Clearly there is a political message that Stone is pressing - the impact of US foreign policy militarily supporting a corrupt government against the wishes of a democratic majority (topical!). Is it historically accurate? Is it propaganda? What we do know is that the movie had an advisor who was killed in El Salvador during production. Perhaps it should be taken at face value - a brilliant piece of film making.
My favourite scene: "HEFE, IMPORTANTO!!"