By Bret Polish, 15, Cleveland HS
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"With its wandering plot, Bringing out the Dead is by far director Martin Scorsese’s weakest film, especially if you remember the quality of his other films like Raging Bull or Goodfellas. The film revolves around three days in the life of a paramedic named Frank Pierce (Nicolas Cage). After several years on the job, his work is finally getting to him. Frank is being haunted by a dead girl he tried to save. However, Frank won’t quit. He feels that he might be able to make it all go away if he’s just able to save a few more people. While it might be a realistic look at several days in life of an ambulance worker, from a cinematic standpoint, the script is a complete mess. Adapted from Joe Connolly’s novel, Paul Schrader’s meandering script is all about moments, scenes, and characters, which, realistic as they are, don’t add up to very much. The plot is propelled almost entirely by Scorsese’s remarkably restless camera, which keeps things watchable, but can’t really help to create an emotionally involving experience. It’s obvious that a lot of research went into the screenplay, and as a description of medical procedures it almost works. However, after the viewer realizes that this isn’t going to lead anywhere, the details just get tedious. The movie’s characters are poorly drawn and uninteresting. Besides stating the obvious, Cage’s unnecessary voice-over gives us a little of his character’s background—he’s an alcoholic, his job is slowly killing him, and he feels responsible for not being able to save a dying victim—but we never get to really understand him. Not only are some of his motives weak, but it’s hard to develop an emotional bond with him. By the end of the film, I still couldn’t figure what exactly makes him tick, and I had a feeling that Cage didn’t really know either. The only actor who comes through unscathed has to be Ving Rhames, who gives yet another fabulously charismatic performance. It’s about time this actor got some recognition by the Academy for his magnetic work. On the positive side, most of Scorsese’s direction is just as amazing as ever. There were a few shots that were a little overdone, such as turning the camera upside down or sideways, but for the bulk of the film Scorsese is at the top of his form. However, it’s not enough to save this movie. I’m pretty sure that Bringing out the Dead will only appeal to Scorsese fans, but even these hardcore fans will find it hard not be disappointed. Besides the dazzling cinematography, the master director’s latest film lacks everything that made his best films so great."