After escaping Jack Welker (Michael Bowen) and his gang, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) goes on the run from the police and tries to escape his own inner turmoil.
Let me just get this right out of the way from the top – Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad is my favorite television series of all time. It is one of those shows, that for me, managed to top itself with every single progressing episode. That is something I don’t think I have ever encountered in a television show besides Breaking Bad. I fell in love with all of the characters – Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, Mike Ehrmantraut, Hank Schrader, and more. Every episode, I was curious to see what they would get up to, and particularly, how White would try to avoid trouble.
That is exactly why I was extremely nervous about the existence of El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. “Felina” is one of my favorite episodes of any television show, and is considered by many others to be one of the greatest finales of all time. The way Gilligan concluded things, with Pinkman’s ultimate escape from Jack and White’s death in particular, being wrapped up beautifully. I really did not want a movie to come along and tell us all these details that we did not necessarily need to know.
But, now that a Breaking Bad movie exists, I went ahead and watched it. I am so happy to report that El Camino is absolutely masterful, and is a truly gripping, emotionally powerful, and brilliant epilogue to one of the most beloved characters: Jesse Pinkman.
The goal of El Camino is not to open up a door for other Breaking Bad movies or to bring back characters that we once knew and loved from that show, but rather, to give finality to Jesse’s storyline. Where did he go after he escaped from Jack? Who does he encounter along the way? Does he finally get a chance to start a new life? All of these questions are explored in a fantastic way.
Ever since the television series, I always thought that Aaron Paul did an amazing job portraying Jesse. He was a greatly complex character with a storyline that resonated with fans all over the world. But I truly did not expect him to be as good as he was in this picture. Everything about his performance here is incredibly raw, riveting, and vigorous. You can tell just by looking into his eyes that he has gone through a world of pain, not just from the events of the last few episodes of Breaking Bad, but his entire life. He is at a breaking point and he just wants a chance at a new life. A chance at freedom.
One of the greatest elements of El Camino is by far the writing by Gilligan. This movie cements him as one of the strongest dramatic writers of this generation, with nearly every moment on screen being filled with suspense and tension that most movies are unable to contain these days.
When it comes to issues with this movie, there are only really a couple that stand out in particular. The biggest one for me is by far, the fact that El Camino, despite how amazing it actually is, does not necessarily need to exist. Yes, it does provide answers for what happens to certain characters, and even shows us some extremely clever flashback sequences with other characters, but at the end of the day, we did not need this movie. I would have been perfectly fine if El Camino never came out, because I did not want the film to come out to begin with. The reason why is because Breaking Bad‘s ending to practically perfect to me and I thought a follow-up was unnecessary, despite how good it ended up being.
The other flaw is that some characters that we know and love appear, and we do not get too much time to spend with them. You think that they may get a bit of involvement in the overall story, but they just never show them again. It would have been nice if all of the characters got something to do.
El Camino is an utterly mesmerizing epilogue to Breaking Bad and offers an extremely gripping story, terrific writing, and a riveting performance from Aaron Paul.
Overall Grade: A
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Cast: Aaron Paul
Directed by: Vince Gilligan
Distributed by: Netflix, AMC
Running Time: 122 minutes