Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Bringing Out the Dead

MPAA Rating: R for gritty violent content, drug use and language

Reviewed by: Aaron Westerfield

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults and teens
Drama and Thriller
1 hr. 58 min.
Year of Release:
Relevant Issues
Nicholas Cage in Bringing Out the Dead

Death in the Bible

Final judgment

PHYSICAL HEALING—Is it guaranteed in Christ’s atonement?—“…with his stripes we are healed.” Answer

About miracles, with list of biblical miracles

Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

ORIGIN OF BAD—How did bad things come about? Answer

Starring: Nicolas Cage, John Goodman, Patricia Arquette, Ving Rhames, Mary Beth Hurt | Director: Martin Scorsese | Producers:W Barbara De Fina, Scott Rudin | Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Nicolas Cage plays EMS paramedic Frank Pierce. It is the early 1990s and New York has not yet undergone its renaissance of recent years. Surrounded by the injured and the dying, Frank is dwelling in an urban night-world, crumbling under the accumulated weight of too many years of saving and losing lives. The film follows Frank over the course of fifty-six hours in his life—two days and three nights on the job—as he reaches the very brink of spiritual collapse and redemption.

“Bringing Out the Dead” is a good movie, with good acting and good choices of actors that played the parts very well. As a paramedic, I can say one might have to be involved in the EMS system to understand some of the black humor, including some of the plot.

As far as a Christian perspective is concerned, there is a lot of swearing, violence and drug use by Cage among others (giving some idea of what some medics do to cope with job-related stress). There are sexual jokes, and one of the paramedics beats a patient (though unrealistic). If you are looking for a movie with a Christian perspective, this is not the one. It does, however, promote friendship (the only positive Christian factor in the movie).

Christians will be interested in one “healing” scene where a paramedic pretends to heal a patient suffering from a drug overdose. While he keeps the attention of onlookers, his partner gives the patient a drug that will bring him out of an overdose. It appears that the medic heals the patient through the power of prayer. While this is certainly possible through Jesus, there are no comments to the medics that God healed the patient; just a congratulations to the medics for doing a good job.

This film is interesting for those involved in emergency medicine. Others, too, may enjoy “Bringing Out the Dead.” All in all, a good movie with good acting! Beware, however, of the gritty violence, drug use and language.

Viewer Comments
…The acting is superb, Nicholas Cage, Vhing Rhames, John Goodman, Tom Siesmoore, and all of the supporting characters. Everyone is Wonderful! Of course, that’s a given. Moral wise, this movie does portray drug use, cursing, and violence is part of the world they live in. To make a film about paramedics in the slums of New York working the night shift G rated wouldn’t get the point across.

The point of the film is much more important than the realistic street observations, an inner city missionary will encounter this everyday, probably worse. The point of this movie is that salvation cannot be gotten through your own works, and I’d say that the Gospel is given in the movie. Look closely at the biblical imagery. The virgin birth, by a mother Maria, all the horrible “lepers” that only the medics would touch, the sacrifices to help other people live. Look at Vhing Rhame’s character, he is a real person and not so perfect. He has his imperfections. It’s a wonderful movie with a wonderful message.
—Galen Gilbert, age 18
…The acting is top-notch, the cinematography is dazzling, and the film has the same unrelenting intensity as “Taxi Driver”… My Ratings: [2/5]
—Todd Gutekunst, age 21
“Bringing Out the Dead” is the 4th collaboration of Scorsese and Schrader, and it follows in “Last Temptation of Christ” / “Raging Bull” / “Taxi Driver’s” foot steps: it’s an intense ride through three days of a paramedics life. It’s wonderfully directed, wrote, and acted, and continues on the thread of classy cinema coming out this year (“American Beauty,” “Fight Club,” “Election”, “Being John Malkovich,” “The Matrix,” “Eyes Wide Shut,” “Three Kings”). It’s on my top ten list for this year. A must for you Scorsese fans.
—Neal S. Saci, age 14


Movie Critics
…images of spirits, gutter vocabulary, bloody wounds and drug abuse bury the acceptability…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…stunning to look at; unfortunately, it’s not terribly satisfying to watch… There’s talent to burn in this movie. But the flame is cold.
—Richard T. Jameson, Mr. Show Biz
…Profanity is extreme… Blood/gore heavy… the results are rather boring, rarely involve the viewer and occasionally become an annoying mess, with some moments more likely to irritate than enthrall, move or otherwise entertain…