Review: ‘El Camino’

Vince Gilligan’s epilogue to one of the greatest shows of all time brings the story of Jesse Pinkman to a close.

9/10

Trailer for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie from Netflix

It’s been over four years since the hit series Breaking Bad left television, and it would be accurate to say that very few shows have filled the gap for thrilling and tension-filled television.

Series creator, writer and producer, Vince Gilligan, teamed up with Peter Gould to produce the spin-off show Better Call Saul with Bob Odenkirk reprising his role, detailing the beginnings of the criminal lawyer leading up to his fateful encounter with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman.

While that show certainly kept fans content, the question remained: What happened to Jesse Pinkman? Freed from captivity by White in the series finale, Pinkman sped off in an El Camino with tears streaming down his face from joy, but what came after? This movie answers that question.

We pick up exactly where the series ended with Pinkman speeding away from Uncle Jack’s compound. From here, he seeks to gather enough money to buy his way out of New Mexico and towards a new life.

What really helps this movie along is Aaron Paul’s performance. By this point in the Gilligan universe, he is a broken, tortured man, and Paul is able to channel the character flawlessly even after the five year gap.

Returning characters include Badger (Matthew Lee Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) who get a chance to bid their close friend farewell before cutting ties with him completely, and while the roles are short and minimal, both Jones and Baker bring the goofy, emotional support back from the main series to help ground Pinkman.

Vince Gilligan returns as writer/director for the film and it’s very apparent that he has grown as a creative force. His signature dark and gritty visual style helps to reinforce the desperation that Pinkman faces.

The score is provided by none other than Dave Porter, the man who provided the score to the main Breaking Bad series. While his iconic theme from the main series isn’t present, his minimalistic score does provide a reflective backdrop to the visuals.

The story itself may not provide a lot of action or guns-a-blazing moments, but it never sets out to do that. This is a world where Heisenberg’s reign has come to an end and this is the slow crawl to a halt for these characters. There is a tense shootout towards the end of the film that provides a classic Breaking Bad fake-out, but don’t expect the film to be a wall-to-wall action movie.

Despite the positives that this movie provides, both as a movie and an epilogue to the series, it is completely unnecessary. It doesn’t add much to the character of Jesse or anyone in the Breaking Bad world, and really only serves as a buffer to the true end of the story. That itself isn’t a bad thing, but one could leave Jesse’s story as is at the end of the finale.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie does well to close out the story of Pinkman, even if it wasn’t exactly needed. It gives fans a chance to live in that story and universe one more time with a character who has helped redefine dramatic television.

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