Bringing Out the Dead

Bomb Rating: 

There are probably a couple dozen tunes in this film -- enough for a double album. Every time EMS paramedic Frank Pierce (Nicolas Cage) goes screaming off in his ambulance through the streets of early 90's New York city, another tune blares over the theater loudspeakers as though the whole thing is an audition tape for MTV.

Is this the movie director Martin Scorsese wanted to make, or the film he thought people would want to see? After all, kids these days aren't interested in silly things like plots or storylines. What they really want is cool camera technique and loads of eccentric characters who say pithy things at just the right time.

There are three funny partners for Frank. There's Larry (John Goodman) -- who's still got his sanity, unlike Frank -- but nonetheless manages a good quip or two. There's Marcus (Ving Rhames), who's found Jesus, but still manages to be funny. And there's Walls (Tom Sizemore), who's turned to violence to make the job tolerable, but who's still pretty amusing because by the time they partner, Frank has pretty much lost it.

The one glimmer of hope in Frank's miserable existence is Mary (Patricia Arquette), who's not a virgin. This casting made me go "Hey, that's Cage's real-life wife. I wonder what they're really thinking about in this scene? Whose turn it is to take out the garbage, perhaps?" I don't know. I couldn't tell. Scorsese then turns to the third act, where he's going to make the point he couldn't be bothered with during the first two-thirds, while he was giving us the music video he thought we wanted. Possibly it had something to do with guilt and redemption, but my eyes and ears were too full of strobing lights and thumping bass to really be sure.

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