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on 23 December 2017
Sometimes you can watch a film and see that all the pieces are there and yet there’s still something not quite right about it. ‘Bringing Out the Dead’ stars Nicholas Cage (while he was still highly-bankable at the Box Office) as a New York ambulance driver who’s on the brink of burning out completely. He’s seemingly lost the ability to sleep (properly) and turned to various substances to get himself through his – increasingly dangerous – nightshifts.

Now, back in 1999 when this film was released, Cage was pretty much at the top of his game and you could guarantee that he’d put in a good performance, especially under an equally great director. Here we have none other than Martin Scorsese at the helm who is more than capable at keeping hold of Cage’s reigns and making sure he doesn’t do that ‘over the topness’ he sometimes slips into. The premise is great and there’s plenty of scope for the story and characters to evolve. The films sports an equally impressive supporting cast including Patricia Arquette, Ving Rhames and John Goodman. So, baring all that in mind, it’s hard to see that anything could go wrong with it.

I certainly don’t hate ‘Bringing Out the Dead.’ I just feel that with that much talent at its disposal it should be a lot better than it is. The actors and direction are amazing, but where it falls down is a general lack of focus as to where the story is going and what genre the film wants to be. It flips from everything from romantic comedy to gritty drama almost every other scene and even flirts with the possibility of a supernatural element (loosely). There’s not an awful lot of motivation for the supporting cast and they just seem to do things to provide Cage with something bad/dramatic to react to. The films plays out like a string of sketches/mini episodes that are loosely strung together by the flimsy of narratives.

If you’re a fan of Cage and/or Scorsese, this is a ‘must watch.’ However, some may get a little tired with waiting for something to happen.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 3 November 2012
Frank Pierce is a member of the Nork York paramedics, serving the Hell's Kitchen district he is witness to some terrible incidents. As he starts to crack under the pressure of the job, and getting no help from a succession of zany partners, Frank may just find solace with an ex-junkie girl who's father he brought in dying of a heart attack.

Martin Scorsese can never be accused of not being adventurous, after dabbling in Eastern spiritualism with 1997s Kundun, he returns to New York and tackles a wing of America's tortured heroes. Based on the novel by Joe Connelly, Bringing Out The Dead is at times a difficult watch in many ways, but it's haunting poignancy is told with brilliantly adroit ease from one of America's famed directors, whilst it has to be said that the humour that is in there is darkly genius in its execution. We are along for the ride with haunted Frank for three days (and nights) as he and his borderline bonkers partners deal with overdoses, heart attacks, drunks and a notably cynical virgin birth! As Frank starts to see ghosts of people he couldn't save in the past, Scorsese and his team treat us to an adrenalin fuelled nightmare, the editing (Thelma Schoonmaker) is swift and explosive like, Robert Richardson's cinematography framing certain aspects of this journey with impacting deftness, and then we have the soundtrack.

Scorsese is always a man who takes great care in sound tracking his movies, in fact few modern day directors can touch his knack for a perfect soundtrack. Fusing Motown with 70s Punk Rock would seem an odd combination, but all of it works as the paramedics start to feel the strain and (in some cases) as the mania takes hold. It's rare to hear a New York Dolls track in a movie, to hear a Johnny Thunders solo track is as rare as a dog that speaks Norwegian, and here the use of Thunders' You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory is pitch perfect, impacting so. Such is the use of early Clash standards as our protagonists feed off each others precarious mental conditions, it's a soundtrack to savour basically.

Nicholas Cage plays Frank Pierce, and it's a great performance full of restraint and honesty, it's the sort of performance that his detractors tend to forget about such is its emotive simplicity. Tom Sizemore (wonderfully manic), Ving Rhames, John Goodman and Patricia Arquette fill out the cast and all do fine work, but I'm sure they would be the first to acknowledge the excellence of Paul Schrader's screenplay. This piece is far from being a masterpiece, but with it's intensity sitting side by side with a paramedics need for coping, it's clear that Scorsese and his talented team have made one of the most astute and undervalued pieces of the 90s. 9/10
3 people found this helpful
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on 25 January 2013
I'm giving this 3 stars, as, for what it is, it is well made mostly, but I don't think up to Scorcese's usual standard.

The pain and suffering was a bit too relentless, though I am not against being shown what many of our unfortunate fellows have to suffer. But the main character Frank's reaction to it all seemed a bit too uneven and incoherant at times, though again maybe that's how it is for some. I just found it hard to engage with him.

It had some good episodes, and I watched all 2 hours of it, to see how the story turned out, and Patricia Arquette is always good to watch. But I didn't find it entertaining, if that's what you're expecting.
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on 29 November 2014
Well I love Nicholas Cage so bought this film...oh my life.....don't bother it's the worst film I think he must have ever made!The plot sound great when reading it but it's a little way out there! Then the film just ends.....your a bit stuck un knowing what might happen next and then nothing happens next!
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on 9 April 2017
Dated.
One person found this helpful
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on 14 November 2016
WE ARE ALL DYING ...Awsome in hd a really enjoyed it even more than the 1st time i watched .cage at his best .Say no more .
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on 11 February 2018
awesome movie
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on 27 February 2017
Like most N.Cage films, this wasn't one of them
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on 19 October 2016
Not one of Nicolas Cage's best films. Boring film
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on 17 February 2017
Thanks.
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