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Bringing Out the Dead (1999)



Average Rating: 6.7/10
Reviews Counted: 105
Fresh: 75 | Rotten: 30

Stunning and compelling, Scorsese and Cage succeed at satisfying the audience.


Average Rating: 6.5/10
Critic Reviews: 27
Fresh: 19 | Rotten: 8

Stunning and compelling, Scorsese and Cage succeed at satisfying the audience.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 38,116

My Rating

Movie Info

Nicolas Cage plays EMS paramedic Frank Pierce. It is the early 1990's and New York has not yet undergone its renaissance of recent years. Surrounded by the injured and the dying, Frank is dwelling in an urban night-world, crumbling under the accumulated weight of too many years of saving and losing lives. The film follows Frank over the course of fifty-six hours in his life - two days and three nights on the job - as he reaches the very brink of spiritual collapse and redemption.


Mystery & Suspense, Drama

Joseph Connelly, Paul Schrader

May 9, 2000

Paramount Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (113) | Top Critics (27) | Fresh (75) | Rotten (30) | DVD (20)

Its hard-to-pin-down tone is frighteningly original -- simultaneously world-weary and adolescent with an aura of perpetual anxiety, as if the characters and filmmakers were in pursuit of a catharsis everyone knows will never come.

September 17, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Of course, it's immaculately crafted and exhilaratingly paced, but in the end it's never as emotionally involving as it could and should be.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Scorsese doesn't trust the power of simplicity to rock us.

August 7, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The auteur has definitely left his distinctive mark, but too seldom and too narrowly.

March 19, 2002 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A fiery masterpiece!

January 1, 2000
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Scorsese has delivered a film that's both savage and sorrowing.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I congratulate Martin Scorsese on this miraculous triumph over his personal demons, and pray for the swift recovery of his art.

August 21, 2009 Full Review Source: City Pages, Minneapolis/St. Paul

A frankly disturbing experience since Cage is at his most manic, the images are brutal, the documentary-style background intense and the (inevitable) theme of redemption a long time emerging.

September 17, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

Scorsese is married to a script that drags him down, keeps him from taking wing as a pure artist.

August 11, 2007 Full Review Source:

Martin Scorsese is a wonderful filmmaker. And he loves New York. He is at his best, though, when he has an interesting story to tell.

July 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Big Picture Big Sound
Big Picture Big Sound

An exciting, invigorating return to old preoccupations. Welcome home, Marty.

December 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

However muddled the story gets, Scorsese guarantees Bringing Out the Dead remains a pulsating trip.

December 23, 2005 Full Review
Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)

It's assuredly the work of a master filmmaker.

April 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

It's another burnout role for Nicolas Cage, to which he brings his vast repertoire of grimaces and shuffles, as if he were variously impersonating a gargoyle on amphetamines and late Elvis on downers.

March 3, 2005
The Nation

I don't recommend it, unless you care to see the best Nicolas Cage performance in several years, or some more of Scorcese's brilliant camera work.

December 6, 2004 | Comment (1)
Looking Closer

Everyone looks dead and they speak as if they live in a nightmarish dreamworld. Well, they do.

June 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

A very different and, in many respects, very impressive film.

December 2, 2002 Full Review Source: Sight and Sound
Sight and Sound

Overlooked Martin Scorsese movie has grim humor, grit and grace.

November 7, 2002 Full Review Source: Netflix

Give it to Martin Scorsese to keep coming back and hitting one out of the park.

September 10, 2002 Full Review Source: Montreal Film Journal
Montreal Film Journal

Bringing Out the Dead fails on almost every level at which Taxi Driver succeeded.

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

Um filme sobre solidão, medo e angústia que jamais fornece respostas fáceis para os dolorosos dilemas de seus personagens.

May 31, 2002 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena
Cinema em Cena

A riveting drama about a New York City paramedic who is experiencing a harrowing spiritual emergency.

March 4, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for Bringing Out the Dead

Review coming to on 8/13
July 27, 2013

Super Reviewer

Frank Pierce: I'd always had nightmares, but now the ghosts didn't wait for me to sleep. 

Bringing Out the Dead is a very interesting film that is another character study from Martin Scorsese, much like Raging Bull or Taxi Driver. Now, it isn't as good as either of those, but it's still Scorsese and all the signs of his presence are there. Much like Taxi Driver, he brings the city of New York into the story as another character, almost. The city is filthy, the hospitals jam packed. Many people can't even get treated because there's just too much for the doctors to handle. 

Frank is an ambulance driver in New York City. He hasn't been getting much sleep lately and we see three nights of him on the job. He's being haunted by those who have died on him, especially an 18 year old girl named Rose that he lost 6 months earlier. He's cracking, he's losing his mind, and he's an alcoholic. The first night we see him take in an older man who just had a heart attack. Frank soon forms a sort of bond with the mans daughter. 

Nicholas Cage is perfect in the role of Frank Pierce. This is the type of role that he was born to play and that he thrives in, as it plays right to his strengths. It allows him to be eccentric, but also lazy. It's much like his performance in Leaving Las Vegas. The rest of the cast is well picked too. John Goodman, Ving Rhames, Tom Sizemore, and even Patricia Arquette(who I am not a fan of) are great in their respected roles.

In the end, this is always going to be a forgotten Scorsese film. It doesn't quite live up to his standard, but it's still an extremely well made and tense film. So what it's labeled "lesser-Scorsese." Whenever Scorsese is in the directors chair, you can be certain it's going to be a film worth watching, and Bringing Out the Dead is no exception. Don't expect another Taxi Driver or Raging Bull. Just expect some more solid filmmaking from one of the greats.
February 2, 2013
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Second viewing, ten years after the first, and believe it or not I find this movie worse than I did the first time - and, sadly, I actually like the premise: a paramedic who's starting to feel the ghosts of his calling catch up to him and who's breaking down as a result. I see why Cage seemed like the right choice - he's played the worn-down type since Leaving Las Vegas - but he's so unbearably flat that I can't cheer for him. He's a passenger in his own life, and few to none of the problems in the film get resolved, which can work sometimes, but here it's just clunky. There's a half hour in the middle that's almost compelling, but the hump at the beginning, the mad veering off in all directions and the abrupt ending overwhelm the good stuff. The best part for me was John Goodman, but he quits the job about 30 minutes in and we never see him again. I will credit Scorsese for the gritty night-time style; I see how he was trying to go back to Taxi Driver. But layering over this film was rambunctious Rolling Stones and Clash tracks didn't do the action any favours, it just jarred the viewer, over and over, with little to no gain from it. Everyone lays an egg at some point in their career, I guess. This one's Scorsese's. It comes off like a half-baked episode of ER.
November 10, 2012

Super Reviewer

A modern Taxi Driver. Bringing Out the Dead it's more a great masterpiece by Scorsese, which, unfortunately, doesn't had the attention that deserve. Nicolas Cage also present an outstanding acting on the screen.
September 14, 2012
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

Movies Like Bringing Out the Dead

    1. Larry: [to Frank] What you gettin'?
    2. Frank Pierce: I'm not hungry.
    3. Larry: Oh yeah, you don't eat food.
    4. Frank Pierce: I eat, I just haven't had coffee yet.
    5. Larry: Coffee and whiskey, lucky you ain't dead with that diet.
    – Submitted by Kia M (23 months ago)
    1. Cy Coates: [to Frank] Relax, you're in the oasis now.
    – Submitted by Kia M (23 months ago)
    1. Frank Pierce: You cannot be near the newly dead without feeling it.
    – Submitted by Kia M (23 months ago)
    1. Cy Coates: Tell me somethin', Frank--does killing your clients make good business sense to you?
    – Submitted by Kia M (23 months ago)
    1. Frank Pierce: I'd always had nightmares, but now the ghosts didn't wait for me to sleep.
    – Submitted by Kia M (23 months ago)
    1. Griss: Don't make me take off my sunglasses!
    – Submitted by Bryan O (23 months ago)
View all quotes (6)

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