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Bringing Out the Dead (1999)

 -  Drama | Thriller  -  22 October 1999 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 46,791 users   Metascore: 70/100
Reviews: 380 user | 168 critic | 34 from Metacritic.com

A Manhattan ambulance paramedic, overworked and haunted by visions of his failures, fights to keep a tenuous grip on his clarity.

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(novel), (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Nurse Constance
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Cy Coates
...
Dr. Hazmat
...
Nurse Crupp
...
Kanita
Cynthia Roman ...
Rose
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Griss
Cullen O. Johnson ...
Mr. Burke (as Cullen Oliver Johnson)
...
Captain Barney (as Arthur Nascarella)
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Storyline

Frank Pierce is a paramedic working Gotham's Hell's Kitchen. He's become burned out and haunted by visions of the people he's tried to save. Written by Michael Arndt

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

hell | paramedic | ghost | ambulance | rescue | See more »

Taglines:

Saving a Life is the ultimate rush See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for gritty violent content, drug use and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

22 October 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bringing Out the Dead  »

Box Office

Budget:

$32,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£356,544 (UK) (7 January 2000)

Gross:

£967,925 (UK) (21 January 2000)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the novel, Frank states that one of his dream jobs after being a paramedic was to be a medical technical adviser on films. Joe Connelly, the author, does that for this film, both providing the source material and acting as technical adviser. See more »

Goofs

The blood smeared on the passenger window of the ambulance disappears and reappears several times between shots. See more »

Quotes

Frank Pierce: The streets are not like the ER. There's no walls, no controls.
See more »

Connections

References Raising Arizona (1987) See more »

Soundtracks

Bell Boy
Written by Pete Townshend (as Peter Townshend)
Performed by The Who
Courtesy of RCA Records/Polydor Limited
Under license from Universal Music Special Markets
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Narrative-wise it is unsatisfying but it has style and pace that makes it worth seeing
31 May 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Frank Pierce is a New York City paramedic. We join his story when he is facing down a double shift of graveyard work despite being burnt out and tired he battles through. Facing the ghosts of those he has lost on the job, Frank tries to help the usual junkies and heart failures but gets involved with Mary when he gets called to her father's heart attack. Despite his tiredness, he tries to help Mary's more emotional pain.

My plot summary for this film is weak, I know that. However it is not weak because I am in a rush, it is weak because the film's narrative is also weak. The basic set up is interesting and this carries the film for the first hour but after this the film tries to settle into more of a story then it falls to bits. For the first half of the film the action is carried by it's visual style and it's pace – it is effortless to watch and is very slick and interesting. Indeed whenever the film stays away from it's story with Mary and focuses on style then it is most enjoyable. It may be very episodic during it's stylish tour of those in need of help but it's is enjoyable nonetheless. However when the film tries to follow a thread with Mary it becomes dull and you realize that this may have style in bucket loads but the substance was given out using an eggcup. For this reason I found it ultimately unsatisfying despite being worth a watch for Scorsese at work.

As a director he really pulls out the stops, it looks great and is visually never dull even if it's narrative is. The soundtrack is also very good even if it could easily be accused of excess in the same way as the visuals could be. Even though this is Scorsese's film, the cast still do OK if not great.

Cage is convincingly washed out for the duration even if isn't as good a character as he hoped. Arquette is not quite as bad as I've seen her but she is still quite poor here. She isn't great and it is partly her fault but also the fault of the material – after all she is given the poor narrative to carry. Goodman has presence if not much to do while Rhames and Sizemore really enjoy their OTT characters. Anthony and Turturro add to the film in minor roles (Anthony being especially good) but I didn't feel like Curtis worked in his role even if he was another well-known face and I was amused by Reyes in a pre-Scrubs medical role.

Overall this is a film that is all about the ride and, for that, it's worth seeing. I enjoyed it's energy, it's pace and it's style in terms of visuals and music, however the narrative is episodic at best and weak for the rest of the time. The best performances are mostly OTT, befitting the excessive mood set by Scorsese's direction but as enjoyable as it is on a stylish, pacey level it isn't satisfying as a total film or as a story.


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