Bringing Out the DeadIn general, I don't like movies that deal with drugs. They usually annoy me. I like Drugstore Cowboy, of course, given that the book was written by a junkie, and the director has, by all accounts, at least some experience with "hard" narcotics. But another film that deals well with drugs is Bringing Out the Dead.

True, the film does tend to over-stress the evils of drug use. But most can be forgiven. Under most circumstances, Mary being an ex-junkie prostitute would just be a cliche. But the fact that she's Mary Magdalene, makes it okay. And I suppose I'm willing to give a pass to Frank's bizarre reaction to what looks like nothing more than Valium; he has to suffer for all our sins after all.

Mostly, the film takes the use and distribution of drugs seriously—more seriously than one usually sees. Take for example, the following plot synopsis from Wikipedia (bold is mine):

The story follows 72 hours in the life of Frank Pierce (Cage), a burnt-out paramedic, in 1990. Frank is a Manhattan medic working the graveyard shift in a two-man ambulance team. Usually exhausted and depressed, Frank sees ghosts walking the streets, particularly that of a young woman he failed to save six months before. He is asigned a shift per day, each with a different partner: Larry (Goodman), Marcus (Rhames), and Tom (Sizemore). While working with them, he befriends the daughter of a heart-attack victim he brought in, Mary (Arquette), an ex-junkie. Between rounds, Frank battles against the massive effects of a new drug (Crack) that is hitting the streets, as well as his own psychological demons.

"Frank battles against the massive effects of a new drug (Crack) that is hitting the streets"?

"Frank battles against the massive effects of a new drug (Crack) that is hitting the streets"?!

First, they got the drug completely wrong; it is supposedly some kind of mixture of heroin with an amino acid that makes it ten times as potent. Or so the doctor in the film says. Regardless, it is an opioid. Otherwise, Narcan would not work to reverse an overdose. Crack? Really? Sometimes I forget that most people live in another universe from me. To them, all drugs they don't use are the same.

Second, "Red Death" is not that big a deal in the movie. There are two primary threads in the film: Rose haunting and Mary redeeming. In fact, at the time of the film, New York City dealers were always branding their product. A good guess would be that "Red Death" was just a new source, which, trying to break into the market, was more pure than average. This would cause a spike in ODs—no need for the special amino acid the doctor spoke of.

Wikipedia aside, Bringing Out the Dead is a great film. And it holds out the hope that if there is no redemption for us, perhaps there is acceptance.