Nicolas Cage’s Underrated Ghost Thriller Is Streaming For Free Right Now

Nicolas Cage and Martin Scorsese's intense thriller, Bringing Out the Dead is an underrated late 90s study about the aftereffects of violence and it's now streaming for free on Plex.

By Jonathan Klotz | Updated

Nic Cage
Bringing Out the Dead

Nicolas Cage is one of the greatest actors working today, even if he spent a decade churning out low-budget films in a long series of questionable decisions, it doesn’t take away from his hits. Bringing Out the Dead, available to stream for free right now, on Plex, is not one of his biggest hits, but it’s also not as bad as Ju-Jitsu or Season of the Witch. In fact, the movie is one of his most underrated films, and it’s even more memorable considering the legendary director behind the camera: Martin Scorsese.

Cage plays Frank Pierce, a paramedic who always sees people on the worst days of their lives and tries to save who he can while holding onto those he can’t. Over three days, Frank teeters on the edge of sanity, dealing with three partners, Larry (John Goodman), Marcus (Ving Rhames), and Walls (Tom Sizemore), who all cope with the stress of the job in their ways. The only solace Frank finds is brief and fleeting, centered on Mary (Patricia Arquette), the daughter of an old man having a heart attack saved early on in the first day.

Along the way, Frank is haunted by Rose (Cynthia Roman), a homeless teenager he failed to save due to his own mistake. Now she appears around every street corner, out of the corner of his eye, keeping vigil over the insomniac paramedic. Nicolas Cage does a fantastic job as Frank’s downward spiral continues, culminating in an encounter with drug dealer Cy (the always underrated Cliff Curtis), which somehow serves as his redemption. Or does it?

Patricia Arquette and Nicolas Cage in Bringing Out the Dead

Bringing Out the Dead came out in 1999, after Fight Club and American History X, two films that, on one level, glorify violence and misery, while under Scorsese’s watchful eye, Nicolas Cage plays a man forced to suffer with both because he’s good at his job. Audiences and critics enjoyed the somber, captivating tale told by the master thespian, though everyone involved would have preferred if more people had actually seen the film. Those that watched it loved it, but it was still a box office flop as an “intense character study about the lingering effects of violence” is a tough sell at a weekend matinee.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Cage said that Bringing Out the Dead was one of the best films he had ever made. Filming the movie was an arduous task for the pair, with the star going through ten shirts every night due to rain, blood, sweat, and mud. Mostly filmed in New York at night in December, the cold conditions made it hard for everyone, with tempers flaring between Tom Sizemore and Marc Antony, almost leading to an open fight between the two.

At the time of filming, and perhaps why Frank and Mary had such great chemistry, Nicolas Cage and Patricia Arquette were married. Though the relationship ended two years later, Bringing out the Dead is the only film the pair made together. It’s also Martin Scorsese’s only film from the 90s with no Oscar nominations, breaking a streak of nominations from 1974’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.

The harrowing character study may showcase Cage’s talent, but he wasn’t the first choice for the role of Frank. While watching the movie for free on Plex, imagine that Edward Norton is in the role instead, and think if that would work as well. Finally, it’s based on a novel of the same name by Joe Connelly, who served as a medical adviser on the film set.

It’s not his most popular movie or one of his worse, but Bringing Out the Dead may be Nicolas Cage’s most underrated film. Check it out for yourself on Plex, where again, it’s streaming for free with no hidden costs.