Bringing Out the Dead - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Bringing Out the Dead Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ February 2, 2013
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.
Super Reviewer
April 19, 2007
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.
Super Reviewer
½ September 14, 2012
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.
Super Reviewer
October 28, 2011
A minor work from a master but still compelling.
Super Reviewer
February 21, 2008
Based on the novel of the same name by Joe Connelly (which I have read...and enjoyed) is this movie: the stroy of Frank Pierce, a burned out and weary paramedic working the third shift on the mean streets of Hell's Kitchen. Over the course of a long three days, Frank struggles with his sanity as he struggles with the ghosts of people he's faield to save, especially one in particular. He also has to deal with three different partners on each night. There's Larry-a guy who'd rather spend his time eating, Marcus the righteous man of God, and Tom- a psycho who gets off on mayhem.

This is the fourth collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader, and in many ways, it draws several comparisons to Taxi Driver (the first film they did together). Both are gritty and dark tales of redemption, although this one is a tad less bleak and more hopeful. It follows the book pretty well, retaining the novel's mix of pain, grimness, and dark humor, although the humor comes off more strongly and apparent in the movie.

This is a slight departure for Scorsese, with the movie being more of a dark comedy than the super gritty drama I was anticipating. This isn't a bad thing, but it seems a bit odd, especially since the movie is also a bit more reserved and lethargic than his usual fare. Maybe this film being different is why it's one of his more underrated films. That's a shame too, because I really dug this.

Nicolas Cage is the perfect choice for Frank, and he gives his second best performance of his career thus far (behind Leaving Las Vegas). He really pulls off the weary, desperate, and haunted nature of the character. John Goodman is fun as Larry, Ving Rhames is a real delight as Marcus, but it's Marc Anthony as a hospital regular who's the real scene stealer of the film. Patricia Arquette is decent if slightly underwhelming as Mary, an ex-junkie and daughter of one of Frank's patients who he tries to form a meaningful connection with.

As I mentioned, this film is a slight change of pace for Scorsese, but it still has some great moments of visual flair, and of course some killer needles drops. I was a tad disappointed because the humor is more prevalent than I anticipated, but it does the book justice, and is still a good and entertaining piece of work. Give it a chance.
Super Reviewer
½ May 1, 2007
Looking at it now, Bringing Out the Dead looks like a Tony Scott-fueled film blended with a spiritual sequel to Taxi Driver. When it was first released, everybody seemed to be down about it except a select few. Personally, I enjoyed the hell out of it even though everybody else didn't. I think it's Scorsese's most underrated effort. It's not his best, but definitely worthy enough to have his name on it. It tends to go a sway in the second act and the soundtrack isn't all that great, but otherwise it's a very effective little character study.
Super Reviewer
January 25, 2011
After watching the Movie I breaked my head off what this Movie actually was all about and where are my two hours of my life?
A Parademic who was loosing his mind? Did I miss something, I DONT THINK SO.
The only good thing in the Movie was Ving Rhames appearence, it made a tiny bit watchable with his funny quotes.
Super Reviewer
May 9, 2007
Burned out paramedic Nicolas Cage deals with insomnia and oppressive guilt caused by losing one too many patients while doing his job in the New York twilight. Written by the scriptwriter responsible for Taxi Driver and Raging Bull and directed by Martin Scorsese, I was expecting a lot from this film but despite some interesting scenes I found it to be very disappointing. Lacking any kind of focus or narrative momentum, it's little more than a series of unconnected events as Cage and a stream of sidekicks drive around and occasionally get splattered with blood like an unfunny version of Repo Man. A little too self consciously wacky, it reminded me of the likes of MASH or Catch 22, representing night-time New York as a kind of crazed urban warzone complete with accompanying surrealities, but the fact is I didn't really connect to or care about any of the characters and without any real structure to frame them in, I was just plain bored a lot of the time. There's little to complain about technically and the performances are all fine but for something that's supposed to be a comedy thriller, it fails in both departments.
Super Reviewer
½ June 1, 2008
This isn't like a Scorcese movie at all. It's more of a dark comedy, just the director having fun. The cast is right on as a group of EMT's working the overnight shift in New York City. Specifically, Nicholas Cage is a paramedic who is in the middle of a nervous breakdown after losing a teenage girl in the streets. All his partners are completely different, but Tom Sizemore completely steals the movie as an EMT who's already half-nuts and sincerely hates his ambulance to the point he tries to beat the shit out of it and total it. You can't take this movie too seriously. It's Scorcese having fun. And Cage is actually really good, too. Cage seems to be at his best when he plays characters who are tortured and almost out-of-control.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
½ May 29, 2009
In Bringing Out The Dead, Martin Scorsese once again attempts to show us the sleazy, sickening underbelly of New York City, this time through the eyes of an ambulance driver (Nicolas Cage) working the graveyard shift in the rough part of town. He befriends the daughter of a man he brought in one night (in a fairly interesting sequence that begins the film), but is also seeing ghosts of a girl he failed to save in the past. The plot, though, just seems incidental to Scorsese and his attempt to shove as much filth and disgust onto the screen as possible. Scorsese also seems to be aping the style of earlier (and better) movies such as Seven and 12 Monkeys, in the way certain scenes are shot and edited. Unfortunately, it's mostly empty symbolism working towards a nihilistic end. The movie also invokes The Bad Lieutenant in the way it shows a man's descent into hell. But The Bad Lieutenant commits to showing it's bleak underbelly without any flash and flare, while Bringing Out The Dead seems to be nothing but flare, all camera techniques and hollywood make-up (and even some c.g.i.). While it's not a horrible movie (and Cage gives a great performance), it seems like a missed opportunity for something really great.
Super Reviewer
May 2, 2009
I didn't care for this movie. I didn't care for Cage in it either.
Super Reviewer
½ March 12, 2008
When Martin Scorsese and Paul Scharder get together good things usually happen (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ) and what on the surface appears to be an interesting New York story turns into a film full of overacting that tries to repeat past glory.

The film stars Nicholas Cage as a burnt out ambulance driver on the edge. The story follows a weekend that begins with him meeting the daughter of a man he saved (Patricia Arquette) and follows him through the weekend and the three different partners, each of which as a different personality (played by John Goodman, Ving Rhames, and Tom Sizemore).

This film is almost an update of the masterpiece Taxi Driver. In fact it's almost trying to be too much like Taxi Driver. The problem is that Nicholas Cage is not Robert DeNiro. Cage is over the top in almost every scene he's in and it's this that brings the movie to a screeching halt. It's almost like Cage is trying to conjure the soul of Travis Bickle and failing miserably.

I've never accused Scorsese of trying to go back to the well, but it almost seems that way in Bringing Out the Dead right down to the music cues that at times remind us of Bernard Herrmann's Taxi Driver score. This is basically a re-imagining of Taxi Driver starring Nicholas Cage who ruins the entire film.

So why does it get three and a half stars? The supporting cast picks up the slack and Scorsese is still a great director (even though some of the scenes seem to be borrowed from Oliver Stone). Bring Out The Dead could have been one of Marty's best if it didn't have Nicholas Cage in it. But he had an Oscar and didn't do crap like... (list to long to post)
Super Reviewer
½ January 3, 2007
A strange film about an ambulance crew in New York and the characters it comes across.
Super Reviewer
June 29, 2008
Basically it's Taxi Driver as an ambulance driver, but these days you have to relish in a good Cage performance. It's also great to see Tom Sizemore and wonder if he was on crack. I know the crack and Ghost Rider have probably kept you away from this title, but don't let it scare you. It's still Scorcese and the film looks beautiful.
Super Reviewer
½ May 5, 2007
Underrated. Like Taxi Driver meets After hours with a hint of Oliver Stone.
Super Reviewer
October 4, 2007
Huh? That's all I have to say about that.
Super Reviewer
September 5, 2007
I really liked this movie. It reminded me of the TNT show Saved (which died an untimely death) complete with the ambulance crash and everything.
Super Reviewer
May 21, 2007
I certainly a bit confused when I saw this film but there were too many moments in this piece that I can't help but call it brilliant. Out of all the dialogue this may very well be my favorite line in the movie and the one that impacted me the most, which was said by Frank, Cage's character: "Oh, I see. With all the poor people of this city who wanted only to live and were viciously murdered, you have the nerve to sit here, wanting to die, and not go through with it? You make me sick!"
Super Reviewer
May 14, 2007
Frank Pierce: Tom, where are the Band-Aids? This IS an ambulance, isn't it?

This seems to be like the lost Scorsese film. It came out in 1999, amidst many other great movies of that year, it has a great cast, an interesting subject, oh and its a Scorsese film.

Nick Cage stars as Frank Pierce, a burnt out ambulance driver. The film takes place during three consecutive days in the early 90s (as the film says) all surrounding a very long shift that cage is on.

Over the course of these three days, Frank is paired up with three different co-pilots in the ambulence.

John Goodman, the most controlled performance in the film.

Larry: Oh no, I can't eat the same meal twice.

Ving Rhames as a born again christian, who also doubles as a security guard in the hospital.

Marcus: Don't make me take off my sunglasses.

and Tom Sizemore, as the upbeat and possibly crazy driver.

Tom Wall: Frank, what do you know? It's you and me again tonight. The rough riders, tearing up the streets, just like old times. This old bus is a warrior, Frank. I have tried to kill her, but she will not die. I have a great respect for that.

These are all great performances, and there are even more from Patricia Arquette as the daughter of a heart attack patient, Cliff Curtis as a drug dealer, and Mark Anthony as a crazy drug user.

Scorsese directs the movie with ultra fast and very visual techniques, with a very short average shot length, but none of it is too jarring, it fits the mood of what is going on in this film.

Cage is also great. Being written by Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver), Cage plays the counter part to Travis Bickle, a man who functions at night, is burnt out, and has seen terrible things, but still goes on with his life. Cage views things in a very dark manner, and is even seeing images of lives that he has lost, but the situations the movie presents us with are both dark and darkly humorous.

A very well made film, with another great Scorsese touch including the editing, visual style and soundtrack.

Dr. Hazmat: I thought you said this guy was dead.
Frank Pierce: He got better.
Super Reviewer
February 28, 2007
Under-rated Scorsese.
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