Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bringing Out the Dead (1999)

Nicolas Cage Film Fest Movie #5

Synopsis: Burnt-out paramedic discovers that patching-up near-dead junkies, gangbangers and heart attack victims at 5AM isn’t a bowl of cherries.

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: "From acclaimed director Martin Scorsese (Casino, Taxi Driver) comes one of his most compelling and unforgettable movies."

What Did I Learn?: A Vitamin B cocktail, followed by an amp of glucose and a drop of adrenaline makes for a nice pick-me-up, although it doesn’t compare to a beer.

You Might Like This Movie If: You know that Public Enemy - and Duran Duran(!) -  were wrong, and it isn’t easy to be a paramedic.

Really?: 1) Um... I realize this movie takes place in the early 1990s, but I have to wonder: did ambulance drivers really drink gin as they cruised the city? Come to think of it, Frank and Marcus (Ving Rhames) flip an ambulance while en route to a call, and… do the cops ever arrive? Do Frank and Marcus face any disciplinary action? 2) Ok…maybe I can believe Griss doesn’t hit any arteries when he impales himself on a spiky fence, but why isn’t he isn’t screaming in agony by the time the paramedics arrive? 3) So wait, Frank can’t sleep and starts seeing ghosts of the people he couldn’t save? He must be a glutton for punishment to stick around in that gig.

Rating: Directed by Martin Scorsese, Bringing Out the Dead shares many similarities with Taxi Driver; the premise of both is in fact the same: a troubled man slowly loses his tenuous grip on reality as he cruises the streets of New York City in the wee hours of the morning. While Bringing Out the Dead is rich with off-beat characters and great scenes (Cage enjoys some great acting chemistry with his three paramedic partners: Rhames, Tom Sizemore, and John Goodman), and the cinematography is beautiful, it suffers from one major flaw: the storyline is static, and the film doesn’t really go anywhere. I realize Bringing Out the Dead is character-driven instead of plot-driven, but everything is left unresolved at the end, and Cage’s character doesn’t really develop so much as cope with his surroundings. It’s a good movie that could have been better. 8/10 stars.

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