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Bringing Out the Dead (1999)

6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 47,478 users   Metascore: 70/100
Reviews: 381 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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...
...
...
...
...
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Nurse Constance
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Cy Coates
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Dr. Hazmat
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Nurse Crupp
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Kanita
Cynthia Roman ...
Rose
...
Griss
Cullen O. Johnson ...
Mr. Burke (as Cullen Oliver Johnson)
...
Captain Barney (as Arthur Nascarella)
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Storyline

An Easter story. Frank is a Manhattan medic, working graveyard in a two-man ambulance team. He's burned out, exhausted, seeing ghosts, especially a young woman he failed to save six months' before, and no longer able to save people: he brings in the dead. We follow him for three nights, each with a different partner: Larry, who thinks about dinner, Marcus, who looks to Jesus, and Tom, who wallops people when work is slow. Frank befriends the daughter of a heart victim he brings in; she's Mary, an ex-junkie, angry at her father but now hoping he'll live. Frank tries to get fired, tries to quit, and keeps coming back, to work and to Mary, in need of his own rebirth. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

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

Taglines:

Saving a Life is the ultimate rush See more »

Genres:

Comedy | 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:

Vidas al límite  »

Box Office

Budget:

$55,000,000 (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

Joe Connelly, the N.Y.C. paramedic who wrote the book and served as technical advisor, has a cameo. In the E.R. waiting room scene where the security guard Griss controls the chaos, aided by his shades, Joe is a catatonic patient walked past the scene by a nurse. He is wearing a brown suede coat and faces forward before being led away. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

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.
See more »

Connections

References Taxi Driver (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

Mr. Higway
Written by Elmer Bernstein
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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