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Film / Bringing Out the Dead

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Bringing Out the Dead is a 1999 drama film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Paul Schrader. The film stars Nicolas Cage as Frank Pierce, a sleep-deprived paramedic who hasn't saved a life in months. The film takes place over the course of several days, as he finds himself frequently haunted by visions of lives he has failed to save.

Rounding out the cast are Patricia Arquette, Tom Sizemore, Ving Rhames, Marc Anthony, John Goodman, and Cliff Curtis. Scorsese himself frequently pops up as the voice of a rather sardonic dispatcher, while another dispatcher whose voice is heard in several scenes is played by Queen Latifah.


Tropes appearing in this film:

  • Activist Fundamentalist Antics: Marcus fits this like a glove as the EMT who spouts Christian Bible quotes and doctrine to his fellow EMTs, his patients and whomever is watching them work on their patients! Especially at the Goth Club where he double takes at his patient's odd stage name, and when he learns from Frank that his patient is still alive but in a drug induced coma, he uses Narcan to fake a miraculous recovery to attempt to convert the club patrons to Christianity. We find out how much a Hypocrite Marcus is when he flirts with the female dispatcher and tries to pick up a prostitute while on duty.
  • Ax-Crazy: Tom absolutely adores tormenting victims. He especially seems to have it out for Noel, looking for any excuse possible to kick seven bells of shit out of the poor guy.
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  • Creator Cameo: As usual, Martin Scorsese, this time as a dispatcher over the radio.
  • Dr. Jerk: Just about everyone that works at the ER seems to be a real prick. The character of Nurse Constance is a particularly noteworthy example, as almost all of her screentime is devoted to her berating patients for their life choices and at times outright questioning why she should bother helping them.
  • Goth: Just about everyone who is at the club Frank and Marcus arrives at, including their patient I Be Bangin' (Fredrick Smith) and his bandmates.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Frank is repeatedly haunted by visions/the ghost of a young woman named Rosa whose life he failed to save.
  • The Insomniac: Frank hasn't been able to sleep well in ages, and his ability to function is severely hampered as a result.
  • Mercy Kill: What finally does in Mr. Burke. After several days worth of endless defibrillations with little in the way of actual results, Frank secretly removes his apparatus and allows him to enter cardiac arrest. Within minutes, the poor bastard is finally out of his misery.
  • Perma-Stubble: Frank looks like absolute hell throughout the film, with a perpetual 5-o'clock shadow and deep bags under his eyes.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Paul Schrader and Martin Scorsese's own Taxi Driver. Both movies star an isolated, insomniac man with a hero complex driving people around New York City, but unlike Travis Bickle, Frank Pierce does have a strong moral compass, even if burnout makes him do stupid things.