El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie Review

Cast: Aaron Paul, Jesse Plemons, Krysten Ritter, Charles Baker

Director: Vince Gilligan

Review:

After being one of the most prolific television shows of all time, it was only a matter of time before these characters made their way to our screens once again.  Sure Better Call Saul is alive and well, but I don’t know if it matches the same intensity and rawness that Breaking Bad did when it aired.  So, after all this time off the air, how will the movie version hold up to the massive expectations of the series?  While maybe not as strong as some of the best episodes of the show, El Camino provides fans with the proper amount of closure while also letting them get to see their favorite characters on screen again.

The film follows the events of the series finale of Breaking Bad where Jesse Pinkman (Paul) escapes his slavery from neo-Nazi meth dealers and now has his life back.  Even though he’s from his prison, the police are now looking for him due to his association with Heisenberg and the various drug-related crimes the two committed in the series.  Now on the run, Jesse must tie up loose ends and find a way out of this life once and for all.  By picking up right after arguably the best episode of the series, there’s a lot of pressure on this movie to make sure it doesn’t mess up a story that’s been revered by fans everywhere.  Fortunately, the movie doesn’t do that and provides fans with a level of comfort and familiarity they’re looking for while introducing new characters and concepts to us all.  This is what’s essential to making a movie that has a detailed source material and fanbase associated with and Gilligan once again shows us just how talented he is with characters that’s created and morphed for so many years.  A major part of the success of this movie is due to the performance of Paul in the leading role.  While Heisenberg may have been more of the focus of the show, having the emphasis shift over to Jesse for this episode was crucial for the movie’s success.  While I like the ambiguity that the show ended Jesse’s journey with, watching him get a real source of closure for his arch makes a younger version of myself smile.  The one thing I do wish they had done was go a little more in-depth about the trauma that Jesse now suffers as a result of his time as a slave.  There are a few moments in the beginning of the movie where we get to see this fallout, but the movie moves along to something else instead of dialing in on that idea.  Looking back at the movie as a whole, it’s basically a 122 minute episode of Breaking Bad, and I’m not exactly complaining about that.  El Camino is an enjoyable revival of characters and plots we haven’t seen in a while, and those who enjoyed the series the way I did will certainly find the same qualities present here.

Overall, El Camino isn’t the greatest movie of the year, but it still manages to meet expectations and deliver upon all the buildup surrounding it.  Seeing Bryan Cranston back as Walter White, even if it’s just in a flashback, is enough to send chills down anyone’s spine and take your mind back to when the show was first taking off.  Plemons’ career has taken off since he appeared on the show and it’s good to see him come back to his roots and show off his evil side once again.  El Camino is another strong addition to Netflix’s catalog and gives their viewers a satisfying send off to a show that is almost universally loved.

Overall Score: 7.5/10

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