It’s no secret that Breaking Bad is highly considered as one of the greatest television series of all time. The impact it left on the entertainment world has hardcore fans consider it an important piece of American media from the 21st century due to the tightly, well written scripts, all of the characters and their impecable development during the series, the impressive cinematography that gets better as each season passes by and it’s perfect series finale that ties every storyline drawn in the show. The show’s success is a testament of the hard work that creator Vince Gilligan pulled off to meticulously craft this almost perfect “blue meth” universe, so when news came that the creator came back to write one more story surrounding Jesse Pinkman and his unknown fate after the finale, there was a lot of skepticism between the fandom if it’ll work or if it’s a “cashgrab” in a world full of reboots and long term sequels. Thankfully, it works.
Without spoiling the important elements of the plot, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie picks up right after the series finale of Breaking Bad with Jesse Pinkman’s – played by the wonderful Aaron Paul – glorious escape from Todd and his uncle Jack’s Neo-Nazi gang. Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is confirmed dead and Pinkman is now being hunted by the Police and the DEA for questioning of the massacre that happened in the gang’s lot.
Even though much of Breaking Bad‘s success has to do with the way Gilligan created this world with interesting characters and dialogues, the highlight was always Bryan Cranston’s portrayal of Walter White and his gangster alter ego “Heisenberg”. However, El Camino is Jesse’s story; Walter’s gone and now he’s the star of the show, yo! The movie finally lets Aaron Paul shine without being overshadowed by Cranston and makes us remember why the show isn’t just about Heisenberg and his perfect crystallized meth. Jesse played an important role in the development of this crazy fantasy world full of meth heads, Mexican gangsters in wheelchairs and “restaurant owner-by-day-drug-lord-by-night” characters that the series is known for as much as Walter did. Paul was a terrific actor on the show, and he’s no different in this film. He knows how to play any scene written by Gilligan, with or without any dialogue, very intense or mildly light. If there was ever any doubt if Paul wasn’t gonna nail it again as Jesse, then be calmed. He’s the same character that the fans loved and cared for during the series’ run; it’s as if there wasn’t a gap during the last season and this film.
Speaking of that gap: it’s not even here! The most shocking detail from El Camino is that it looks, feels and breathes like a Breaking Bad episode, in a good way. Every department in the production did a spectacular job to recreate the iconic Albuquerque, New Mexico location, its style and recurring characters that can make fans reconnect with the world, while learning this new story. The cinematography is impeccable much like it was in the series while bringing something new in terms of a cinematic look. The music montages, the timelapse transitions, the continuity surrounding events like Walt’s death and seeing characters like Badger and Skinny Pete again are all a one way trip back into fantasy universe for old time’s sake.
If there was something to complain about the film, the story in El Camino is a bit barebone compared to the rest of the 62 episodes of the TV series, but it has to do with the fact that Jesse’s adventure after Hell is treated more like an epilogue more than a grandiose episode like Ozymandias or Face Off. This can be compared to a similar style of storytelling from more recent films like Toy Story 4: both are epilogues to stories that don’t really need to be made but are there to fully close the protagonist’s arc. The sense of scale is turned down a notch, which helps keep the intensity of Jesse trying so hard not to get caught and escape New Mexico on a higher level.
During the film, there’s a series of great flashbacks that helps the audience understand the context behind the decisions Jesse takes in order to survive. I wish that there was more present day action compared to the flashbacks, but they still work to service those hardcore fans with at least one more look at these characters and why they committed certain actions. The ending of the movie wasn’t something “mindblowing” like the one in Felina, but the fact of the matter is that El Camino, as a whole, was written in order to give a proper farewell to one of the show’s most important character.
The Breaking Bad‘s series finale is considered to be one of – if not – the best ending to a TV series, because it doesn’t leave any stones unturned. However, El Camino is the perfect epilogue to one of the most groundbreaking dramas in television history. Aaron Paul’s return as Jesse Pinkman isn’t something that fans actually needed, but it’s a darn welcomed one. Even though the film would’ve benefited if it was made into a short Netflix series, the results was a great farewell to an amazing character and world that fans will keep talking about throughout the years.