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Movie Review: "El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie"

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Netflix Release: 10/11/2019

Netflix Release: 10/11/2019

Synopsis

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) worked together cooking meth that dominated the drug game in the area. Their time cooking meth sent them down a dark path that inevitably led to Jesse Pinkman being captured by a dangerous drug syndicate. Walter White is now dead, but his final act was to free Jesse from this group. The result was a shooting that wiped out everyone involved. Everyone, that is, except for Jesse Pinkman.

Wanted for his involvement in the shooting, as well as for the mountain of crimes he committed during his time cooking and dealing meth, Jesse is now on the run from law enforcement. He is all over the news, so he cannot stay hidden in Albuquerque, New Mexico forever. If he stays, it is only a matter of time before he gets caught, and he would surely spend the rest of his life in prison. He needs a plan to get out of town, but he cannot do it alone. Desperate for help, and desperate for people he can trust, Jesse seeks out a couple of old friends.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Jesse Pinkman (+8pts)

The Plot (-4pts)

Jesse Plemons (+5pts)

Todd (-2pts)

The Nostalgia (+5pts)

Badger, Skinny Pete & The Police (-2pts)

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Pro: Jesse Pinkman (+8pts)

Throughout Breaking Bad, I was always more fascinated by Jesse Pinkman's story than I was of Walter White's. Take nothing away from Bryan Cranston's incredible performance as the character, but I thought Walter White frequently a jerk, with some redeeming moments sprinkled throughout to keep him likable. Jesse Pinkman, however, went through an incredible arc throughout the series. The character started the series as a simple, cocky, local drug dealer. Throughout the series, Jesse went through an insane rollercoaster of a story. He became a better, more responsible version of himself, but he also suffered heavy tragedies that sent him to incredibly dark places mentally.

The series finally came to an end, giving Jesse hope for freedom, but now we see that freedom did not end up coming so easily for him. I am honestly not sure how much you would enjoy this movie if you have not seen Breaking Bad. You would be able to get the gist of Jesse's story, sure, but you would not feel the true impact or the weight of what he has been through up until this point. Having seen Breaking Bad myself, I was totally invested in this movie. It was the continuation of the story for a compelling character, and Aaron Paul delivered a great dramatic performance that hooked me into caring about the character once again.

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Con: The Plot (-4pts)

The plot of this movie left me confused as to why the filmmakers made the movie in the first place. My issue was that it felt like there was no real plot here. If you look at this story, chronologically, Jesse did not do much. The filmmakers got around this by cutting to flashbacks to events that took place during the events of Breaking Bad, but which were not shown on screen during the series. The filmmakers did not seem to have a full story to tell, regarding Jesse's fate after the events of the series. Thus, at least half of this movie was flashbacks, and it seemed like the filmmakers were using these to increase the runtime and hide the fact that they did not have much of a present day story.

Fortunately, the flashbacks were all new to the viewer, and they were necessary in order to setup some of the things that Jesse was doing in the present day storyline. It really was not that I disliked anything that happened in the flashbacks, it just felt like the filmmakers went to that well too many times. I was completely into the western-styled climax, and I enjoyed most of what led up to that climax. However, in coming back and delivering a Breaking Bad movie, it was a shame that it did not feel like the filmmakers had much of a story to tell.

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Pro: Jesse Plemons (+5pts)

I definitely did not expect to see Todd (Jesse Plemons) in this movie, because I knew what happened to him at the end of Breaking Bad. Nonetheless, he was in this movie quite a bit, and this movie was certainly better for it. The character was odd, and Jesse Plemons did a really great job playing him again. The way Jesse Plemons delivered his character's lines, as well as the character's general awkwardness, made him really entertaining whenever he was on screen. I never quite knew what this character would do or say, how he would respond to things, or where he would take Jesse Pinkman next. Jesse Pinkman was in a dark place in this movie, as this movie was the culmination of Jesse Pinkman's entire, tragic story from the hit series. The inclusion of Todd provided some comedic relief, as well as some tension, and it was so effective thanks to the performance by Jesse Plemons.

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Con: Todd (-2pts)

I know I just said that I liked Jesse Plemons in this movie, so it is probably odd to see me list Todd as one of the movie's weaknesses. Todd had his purpose in this movie. He helped setup some things, while also delivering awkward tension and acting as a comedic relief. My issue was instead with how much focus Todd got in this movie. Given the movie’s premise—being about Jesse Pinkman in the aftermath of the Breaking Bad finale—it just seemed weird to me to spend so much time focusing on Todd, as it meant spending a lot of screen-time focused on the past through flashback sequences. It was like driving forward while spending a lot of time looking backward.

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Pro: The Nostalgia (+5pts)

I am not normally one that likes it when filmmakers shove nostalgia in the viewer's face. That being said, the filmmakers of this movie did it really effectively. They used flashbacks to help explain Jesse's plan, and they used those flashbacks to throw in cameos of a number of classic Breaking Bad characters. I do not want to give any of them away, but I liked seeing them pop up in this movie, and I liked how naturally the filmmakers got them in here. None of these cameos felt forced. Each of these characters played an important part in Jesse's journey, which made every one of these cameos feel natural. Plus, it was just fun to see these characters again.

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Con: Badger, Skinny Pete & The Police (-2pts)

Badger (Matt Jones), Skinny Pete (Charles Baker), and the police did not play much of a role in this movie, which I found disappointing. With Badger and Skinny Pete, we could have gotten more comedic relief characters, which would have allowed the filmmakers to use Todd more sparingly. Badger and Skinny Pete were in the beginning of the movie, but the story moved on from them, when it really did not need to. Then, despite what the initial trailer suggested, the police really did not play much of a role in this story.

The police were, for all intents and purposes, a background challenge for Jesse. Yes, he absolutely needed to avoid them, but he never even came close to getting caught. The police were just sort of a looming background threat that could have popped up at any time, but they never really did. This felt like a waste. Given that it felt like the filmmakers forced flashbacks into this movie in order to increase the run-time and to explain Jesse’s plan, having the police play such a small role felt like a wasted opportunity. Making them hotter on Jesse’s tail, almost catching him at every turn, could have added a ton of suspense to this movie. Unfortunately, the filmmakers chose to go another way.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B+ (85pts)

I was a huge fan of Breaking Bad, so I was really excited to see this movie. If you have not seen Breaking Bad, you will still understand this movie, but it would definitely be a lot more effective if you have seen the series. Also, if you have not watched Breaking Bad, then what are you waiting for? It was truly an excellent show, so you should definitely give it a shot if you have not already done so.

Aaron Paul was great in this movie, as he was back in the captivating role of Jesse Pinkman. This character has been through an incredible story arc that has captivated me from the beginning. With this movie, his story continued and he was just as compelling as he was in the series. The movie effectively utilized nostalgia through cameos, and it brought Todd into this story in a big way. I did not think Todd should have received as much screen-time as he did, but his awkwardness made him really entertaining whenever he was on screen. I though the plot was on the weaker side, as there really was not much to it, but overall, I still enjoyed this movie quite a bit.

Comments

Liza from USA on December 03, 2019:

Cool, thanks!

Movie Beasts (author) from MA on December 02, 2019:

Will do, thanks for the request! I saw that The Irishman was now on Netflix, and have added it to my list of things to watch. Will try to get to that one soon

Liza from USA on December 02, 2019:

El- Camino is on my list to watch this month. I am a fan of the show and planning to re-watch it. Jesse Plemons was in the movie? I remember watching him on the show, and he has changed a lot.

Last night I saw him in The Irishman. Man, that show was superb! I have been longing to see a movie like this forever. Please make a review on that!

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