BRINGING OUT THE DEAD (1999)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Patricia Arquette, John Goodman, Ving Rhames, Tom Sizemore, Marc Anthony, Mary Beth Hurt.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Screenplay: Paul Schrader
Based on the novel by Joe Connelly
121 minutes
Rated: R

It might seem strange to find a review of this movie on this website. There's no mystery in it. It's not a crime drama. So why the review?

Mainly, because the movie has a pulp feel to it. The mean streets of New York City come alive as we ride along with Frank Pierce (Nicolas Cage), a manic EMT who has NOT saved more lives in the past month than he HAS saved. He's feeling kind of bad about that. He's trying to turn the slump in a more positive direction but without much success. His past "failures" are beginning to haunt him. As he races through three nights of unrelenting work, each hour brings him closer to collapse -- mental, physical, and emotional.

Frank's touchstone in the movie is Mary Burke (Patricia Arquette). They first meet when he is dispatched to her father's apartment where he attempts to resuscitate her father, the victim of an apparent heart attack. He later meets up with her at the hospital as she endures hours and days of not knowing if her father will survive the trauma. Their lives move in and out of contact over the course of the movie.

The movie is quirky and edgy. Cage brings manicness and weariness to his character that make you want to root for him, even if he has slipped over the edge into madness. He is teamed with a succession of equally deranged partners, John Goodman, Ving Rhames, and Tom Sizemore. Martin Scorsese is fun as the dispatcher. And don't miss the ER admitting nurse. For me, she stole the show!

The dark humor, or gallows humor, is fun. If you've ever been on duty in a crowded ER on the night of a full moon, or been behind the wheel of an ambulance in a major city, you're in for a real treat. Sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride!


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