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Overall Rating
3.57

Awesome: 31.4%
Worth A Look: 18.18%
Just Average33.88%
Pretty Crappy: 9.09%
Sucks: 7.44%

10 reviews, 61 user ratings


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Bringing Out the Dead
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by EricDSnider

"You want it to be great, but it just isn't great."
3 stars

Nicolas Cage has made a career out of playing semi-psychotic losers. Whether they're comical ("Raising Arizona," "Honeymoon in Vegas") or serious (everything else), he has a knack for starting out just slightly off-kilter, and winding up completely deranged. Occasionally, he returns from insanity and rejoins normal society.

"Bringing out the Dead," a visually stimulating but intellectually mediocre film from director Martin Scorsese, is one in which Cage gets to come back again. In fact, if the film is "about" anything (and that's debatable), it's about Cage's character's struggle to forgive himself and to return to himself.

Cage plays Frank Pierce, an EMT who made a mistake and allowed a girl to die. Now, she haunts him -- not in a literal, "Sixth Sense" kind of way, but figuratively. He occasionally sees her face everywhere; other times, he doesn't see her at all.

He's up and down, that Frank, and so is the movie. It takes place in the crazy version of New York City we often see in movies, with the action centering around an over-crowded, unsympathetic hospital and Frank's fellow EMTs, all of whom are also insane in one way or another. The city's crazy, all the people are crazy, and Scorsese's frenetic, rambunctious directorial style is crazy, too.

Yet the film has its calm moments. Lots of them. As Frank struggles with his inner demons, he befriends a girl named Mary (Patricia Arquette) whose father is in the hospital following a heart attack. She leads him to a drug-dealer's apartment, where there is a great deal of peace and quiet -- the best sleep Frank has had in a while. Yet he's plagued by psychotic dreams in which he saves a bunch of lives even while still being haunted.

Should there be a time when everyone should die, when you should just let go? Eventually, that's what the point is here: to let go of the past. As one character tells Frank, "No one asked you to suffer. That was your idea."

Often bathed in white light, like the God that EMTs feel they are when they save lives, Frank is a man thoroughly burnt out with his job, begging to be fired so he can escape his torment. But then he has other moments of sheer humanity, when he wants to -- and still feels he can -- save people, whether that means saving their lives or letting them die.

The dialogue is often darkly funny, but somehow we expect more intelligence and meaning out of Scorsese. For all its flash and substance -- and the film is undeniably interesting -- it really doesn't amount to much.

Cage is strong, as usual, in this role, though the sheer oddness of the film and the look-how-cool-I-am style of the director makes it difficult to connect with him. Even when he arrives at a resolution in his life, about all we can do is shrug our shoulders and say, "Good for him," because we're still busy trying to make sense of the whole meandering thing.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1970&reviewer=247
originally posted: 06/30/03 03:49:45
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell bringing out the boredom too it blows 1 stars
3/16/15 PAUL SHORTT EXCITING, IMMACULATELY CRAFTED AND EXHILARATINGLY PACED 4 stars
10/06/13 David An absolutely wonderful film 5 stars
9/16/13 mr.mike One of Scorcese's lesser films. 3 stars
8/19/09 Jeff Wilder Effective. Not on the level of Taxi Driver or Goodfellas. But still takes a piece out. 4 stars
11/26/08 CTT Not Scorsese's best, but still watchable 4 stars
12/17/05 Jeff Anderson Very disappointing. See Scott Ziehl's brilliant BROKEN VESSELS instead, a MUCH better film! 2 stars
8/23/05 ES Could have been better 3 stars
6/12/05 Agent Sands One of the darkest movies I've ever found funny. Good, riveting stuff from Sir Scorsese. 5 stars
5/24/05 Jake Disappointing effort from Martin Scorsese 3 stars
3/07/05 Mason great remake of Taxi Driver, should have been called Ambulace Driver 4 stars
12/28/04 Steve Newman Could not get into this film - worth a watch only 4 stars
6/26/03 cochese Being a Paramedic, I can say this movie is disturbing- yet it is entertaining. 4 stars
3/02/03 Jack Sommersby Visually interesting but emotionally aloof. Cage is merely adequate. 2 stars
1/12/03 Stevo not one of the better scorceses, but still an engrossing, traumatic, very good movie 4 stars
6/13/02 erick an absolutly amazing fillm 5 stars
4/05/02 Junshi For some reason, all I remember was how much I laughed. 3 stars
3/05/02 natasha an almost religious experience; visually stunning and emotionally wrenching 5 stars
11/21/01 daniboy amazing. even marc anthony. 5 stars
9/05/01 Butterbean Great cinematography, great director, aimless movie 3 stars
8/28/01 Sarah No heros here, just normal ppl trying to get through their day sane 4 stars
7/02/01 J My 1st experience with Scorsese and I wonder if this will be my best. 5 stars
11/22/00 Kimberly Joubert wonderful enlighting scorsese film 4 stars
11/17/00 2sleeepy great sound effects 5 stars
10/01/00 Madoc69 very dark and very good M.S. and Cage at their best 5 stars
9/29/00 Jed Clearly one of the best films of 1999. I hope M.S's other films are this good. 5 stars
8/28/00 Add Very powerful, excellent visuals, great performances but maybe 2 different 4 some people. 4 stars
7/13/00 Bruce Scorsese shows that he still has it. 5 stars
7/01/00 Trina M. Barnard the dumbest movie I've ever saw, turn it off it was so boring. 1 stars
6/28/00 Monday Morning Nic at Nite...or anytime...is good. Film was pointless though. 3 stars
6/26/00 stranded on the Island Great acting on this one; don't expect typical hollywood (i.e. fluff) though! 5 stars
6/19/00 Ulatekk Two hours of my life I will never get back... 1 stars
6/12/00 Andrew Incredible 5 stars
6/03/00 Dallastech I sucked because of the plot or shall i saw lack of..... 2 stars
5/21/00 Jess Damn good performances and visual stimulation. 4 stars
5/17/00 michael visually stunning, wonderful sound, great script what more do you want?! 5 stars
5/12/00 The Bomb 69 scorsese was all over the place and most of it sucked 2 stars
5/12/00 Overflow Bitch Sensational. Dark yet inspiring. Cage is incredible as usual. 5 stars
4/24/00 John Lyons Absolute waste of Nick Cage! Wasted my money on this one. 1 stars
4/24/00 Belinda I walked out - RUBBISH 1 stars
2/21/00 toneely the worst movie ever..HORRIBLE 1 stars
1/13/00 Matthew Bartley Remove Arquette and it would be damn near perfect. 5 stars
12/10/99 xiong But how to explain Patricia Arquette's career? 4 stars
11/28/99 Chet Patel Great film about a man questioning his life, and what he has accoplished in his job? 4 stars
11/23/99 PJ Visually brilliant and intense. Not his best, but better than most of h'wood's other shit. 5 stars
11/08/99 pipeman Scorsese shoots, he misses. He really fucking misses. Ack! Ptui! 1 stars
11/08/99 Dominique This was more frustrating than entertaining or enlightening. Shame! Shame! Shame! 1 stars
11/06/99 Roman No real plot but had some funny moments 3 stars
11/01/99 shiraz hallucinatory taxi driver on speed; critics love it but watch it only for film class 3 stars
11/01/99 PhilmPhreak It was OK, but no Taxi Driver. 3 stars
10/31/99 john worst movie Ive seen in years 1 stars
10/30/99 C.A.T.M. Maybe it's getting better ratings than it deserves, but it was intense never-the-less. 4 stars
10/28/99 Hojo Premium stuff from Cage, Sizemore, Rhames, & Goodman, & a well-made (if boring) story 4 stars
10/27/99 Mr Showbiz Stunning to look at, but dramatically unfulfilling. 4 stars
10/27/99 Gi & Ty Almost all of the ten people in the theater were sleeping and bored out of their minds 2 stars
10/26/99 Linda W I liked the camera work alot the theme was to schizoid and frantic I needed a valium. 3 stars
10/25/99 TheAngryMob This movie was great!!! 5 stars
10/25/99 Max Lethal Good, but left me feeling like I deserved more... 3 stars
10/24/99 danimal super cool, and good to see M.S. back 5 stars
10/23/99 Janet Hold on, Lady, we go for a ride! Cage at his edginess. 5 stars
10/22/99 gezick style, in the ultimate, never since Taxi Driver have we seen such exquisite fast motion 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  22-Oct-1999 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  20-Apr-2000 (R)




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