El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie Movie Review
Poor Jesse just can’t catch a break. The last time we saw him in the Breaking Bad series finale six years ago, he was driving away in a gleeful panic having finally escaped his sociopathic captors—now dead—and Walter White—now dead. El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie begins literally seconds later to reveal that Jesse Pinkman’s troubles are far from over: the feds are looking for him, and all that money he made over the years is gone.
El Camino plays less like an isolated movie than a post-finale episode of Breaking Bad, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
It’ll definitely help to freshen up on the final season of the show, as show creator and writer/director Vince Gilligan brings back many supporting characters who prove pivotal, including Jesse Plemons as Todd, whose character was killed in the final episode, and Robert Forster as Ed, who passed away in real life just this week. If you go in blind, you’ll likely be lost, or at least not appreciate all the little moments in a movie (and show) that relies on little moments.
El Camino plays like a long and effective Breaking Bad episode, a slow burn that builds in pace and excitement as the story progresses. While the entire production is satisfying, the film’s first hour is its finest, the script and character work as good as you’d expect from this mini-universe Gilligan has crafted (don’t forget that Better Call Saul is still going strong).
Aaron Paul is terrific, reminding us of exactly why Jesse Pinkman was and is such a popular character, and how much he has evolved since the beginning. Gilligan occasionally gets carried away with nostalgic flashbacks and Breaking Bad references, passing them off as moments to remind us of the emotional significance of what Jesse is facing, but it often appears as if the showrunner didn’t quite have enough meat to fill a full two hours. Thankfully, Paul and the rest of the cast are so good they help gloss over any minor issues.
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie isn’t groundbreaking cinema—if you can call it cinema at all. It looks, feels, and acts more like a Breaking Bad episode than any kind of cinematic experience (regardless of its Netflix distribution), but that’s OK--it’s nice to see Jesse once again, and in good form.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.