'El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie' (2019) A Methy Movie Review
Breaking Bad is easily one of the greatest shows I have ever seen; intelligent ideas and character arcs, a wildly original premise, masterfully well-made and performed, balances the line of nail biting suspense and quirky humor flawlessly, and unpredictable from one episode to the next. Here’s my confession, I only watched it for the first time a few months ago. As one may guess, I was relatively late to the Breaking Bad party by about six years. However, that doesn’t demean any qualities for one of the most iconic television shows to come out in the last fifty years.
For years I was told of its terrific quality writing by countless friends, unfortunately it took me a few years to finally sit down and watch it because I’m simply terrible with watching TV shows in all honesty. With that said, I was glad to have seen every episode of Breaking Bad. Once the series finale had concluded for myself, I was happily satisfied. Also fairly curious as to what a cinematic continuation would hold for the world of Breaking Bad with the title El Camino. Personally, I was excited to see what happened next and what may have been the aftermath of everything that went down from the series. Would we get a glimpse of the cast several years later or would it take place only a split second after the credits rolled on the very last episode? Would we get another plot line that would reinvigorate the world or would this be a proper sendoff for characters who were slightly lacking from the original finale all those years ago? Would Aaron Paul get to utter his most iconic catch phrase “b*tch” at some point during the movie? Let’s find out!
Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) is now on the run immediately after being released from captivity by his former partner Walter White (Bryan Cranston). As every cop in the state is on the hunt for Jesse, he must figure out a way to stay hidden and find salvation or else he may end up back behind a new set of bars for the rest of his days. If he can live that long that is.
Yes, at this point of writing the review, El Camino has been available for streaming on Netflix for nearly a month now. Doesn’t mean that I care to spoil the film, mainly because I believe that there is a lot that fans of the show would enjoy the hell out of without being spoiled of all its contents prior. Part of the fun is not knowing what this movie is really all about or where it’s going to go. Occasionally the film gives bread crumbs leading to where things might wind up, only to make a sharp left turn when the viewer least expects it. Which is always a delight when any movie can pull that element of unpredictability off, but it is also extremely reminiscent of what Vince Gilligan was popularly known to do with his show constantly.
Pinkman’s Back, B*tch!
One of my favorite aspects about Breaking Bad was the character of Jesse Pinkman, who was played marvelously by Aaron Paul. In the show, Pinkman was a punk with charm. Yes, he had a hard head and made stupid decisions that would get him into a lot of sticky situations. Yet he also had a heart of gold, had an easily lovable personality of the naïve kid just trying to figure out his place in life, and he found a way to make the word “b*tch” unbelievably entertaining to hear. Seriously, even years ago before being a dedicated watcher of the show, I still knew of his popular use of the word “b*tch” and it always brought a smile to my face any time I viewed a clip of him saying it.
For Jesse, El Camino is literal seconds later after making his escape. For Aaron Paul, it’s been approximately six years since he last stepped foot in the role. Let me say, Paul slips right back into this character without a hitch. Even though, physically speaking, it is clear that some time has passed on the actor. But I never once found it distracting, I simply felt as though I’m back watching a slightly more cinematic follow-up on this beloved character who is a bit more damaged as a result of the events that transpired from his partnership with Walter White and his forced imprisonment in the final season.
Possibly what I admire most about this movie is the attentive delving into Jesse’s mental state as he is trying to recover from months of being chained up and caged like an animal, all while having to deal with one fiasco after another in his attempts for freedom. When Breaking Bad had concluded on his character, as mostly satisfied as I was with his departure from the story, I did wish to have gotten a bit more insight as to what horrors he went through during his captivity and where he would have gone after the finale. El Camino is the epilogue that delivers exactly what I wanted. We get an opportunity to witness some truly haunting scenarios that Jesse persevered through and how he is now on the road to being truly free; mentally and physically.
Anyone familiar with the show will likely recall the young, sadistic Todd who was a large factor for Jesse’s forced lockup. This may be a spoiler, but there are flashback sequences pertaining to this character with the reprisal of Jesse Plemons back in the role. At first, I won’t lie, it is rather distracting to see Plemons back as he clearly has aged since the show’s first run airing. After a few minutes, I quite effortlessly was able to set that aside and enjoy the man’s unnerving and darkly funny performance. Jesse Plemons has always been and continues to be a shining talent who can turn an average role into something special. Plemons does a great job in wrapping the viewer up in his sinister cadence that is coated by a faint mask of genuine nurturing. Todd, in the show, was hinted at being a bit of a sociopath. The movie more than solidifies that as fact and has some fun with it as well.
Another aspect I wanted to see more of from the show was the pet-like relationship between Pinkman and Todd, again, delivered terrifically by El Camino. There is a sequence between these two actors during the flashbacks that is simultaneously intense, subtle, humorous, and downright bleak when thought upon. Seeing the amount of total degradation and submission that Pinkman is succumbed to as he remained under Todd’s shackles was heartbreaking and unnerving as it feeds naturally into what Pinkman is mentally overcoming with PTSD in his current situation.
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Breaking Bad is a gorgeous looking show with inspired cinematography and editing. El Camino certainly maintains that spirit and takes it a step further with feeling even more cinematic than ever. Wide shots of the beautiful desert landscapes, set designs that are uniquely shot, and fantastically gritty lighting. It was obvious to me from the opening shot that everyone behind the camera was excited to be there on set revisiting this world again. Not only that, but wanted to show it off in the best way they visually could achieve. In my opinion, they succeeded as it holds the specific aesthetic of the show while pushing it beyond where it was capable of before. Feeling like a sendup to an old western with a modern take as it follows along an outlaw seeking redemption.
He Says It.
Jesse says “b*tch”. I know that may be such a random detail to focus on, but it was important to me that Jesse says “b*tch” at some point in the film. It’s his word, his catch phrase, his “I’ll be back” or “Do you feel lucky, punk?” Would El Camino have been a bad movie if the Pinkman character never said “b*tch”? No. Not by a long shot… but I’m petty and would have been majorly disappointed if they didn’t take the opportunity to let him say it. Granted, I had to wait a very long time in the movie to actually hear him say “b*tch”, but was so happy to hear that word escape from the clutches of his mouth’s captivity. Yeah, this is definitely a weird thing to focus on. Oh well, Pinkman said “b*tch” so I’m happy.
After viewing the film, I went online to gather what the general consensus was for the public and fans. Upon a short investigation, I found that many wholehearted fans of Breaking Bad were complaining about El Camino being an “unnecessary” epilogue to the masterpiece television show and should not have been made. Technically speaking, was this unnecessary? To an extent, I suppose I can agree with that statement in the sense that I could watch the series finale and imagine what happened to the Pinkman character without much issue. On the other hand, I’d argue that El Camino supplied some insight and extra detail that I wasn’t fully aware to have been yearning for until I received it from this movie. Plus, it’s simply nice to be able to have another journey within this world again with all the colorful dialog and suspenseful circumstances our hero must venture through. Is it a masterpiece? No, but it’s still worth a watch for any fan and has more than plenty to entertain.
Truthfully, I would love to see more movies or possibly mini-series that catch up with some of the characters after everything that happened during the five seasons of Breaking Bad. El Camino opens the door to several exciting avenues that could profit from this one idea. Think of the state that Walter White’s family could be in after learning of his fate and the interesting themes that could follow suit from just that alone; would they hold him in high regard when recalling his memory or did he become the monster that he was afraid of being when they remember him? How does Skyler, Walter’s wife, manage after all that torment and raising these two children on her own? Moving away from the family aspect, maybe we could even what the scummy attorney, Saul, is up to after making his own getaway would create some fun as well. My fingers are crossed that more ideas and stories could come from the introduction of El Camino. However, if this turns out to be a one-off then I’m still content with the end product.
Aaron Paul is captivating as he gives this character of Jesse Pinkman the proper sendoff I think we all want to see. Surprisingly enough, the over two hour runtime breezes by as every minute is either exciting, thrilling, or hilarious. Seriously, I was amazed that I never felt any sort of drag during my stay on this continuation. When the credits rolled, I was bewildered that two hours had already come to pass. The ending itself was not quite what I was expecting. At first I was slightly taken back by its quiet execution of the final moments, then as I was able to let the whole film sink in, I grew more fond of Pinkman’s ultimate conclusion. If anyone reading this article is a fan of the show, I’m pretty sure that they should find some enjoyment taking a step back into the realm of Breaking Bad. In terms of newcomers that want to watch this casually without having any prior knowledge of the series will likely not gain much value out of this film as it relies rather heavily on the audience already knowing these characters and their personal arcs before going in here. With that said, have yourself a blast and check out Breaking Bad if you haven’t already, then El Camino right after. I promise it will be worth the ride!
Favorite Breaking Bad
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That’s All Folks!
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie… the Solo: A Star Wars Story of 2019? What did you think of the picture? Like or dislike? Agree or disagree? Ecstatic that Aaron Paul says “b*tch” again? Comment down below and let me know! Also, if you so happened to have enjoyed this review then please do me a favor and share this article around the social media world. Thank you all so much for reading and have yourselves a methy good day… Don’t do meth.
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© 2019 John Plocar