Review: El Camino (15)

Kate Dunkerton reviews the cinematic continuation of one of the most beloved shows of all time.

Kate Dunkerton
14th October 2019

This Friday saw the Netflix release of the highly anticipated sequel film to the AMC series Breaking Bad, regarded as one of the greatest television series of all time.

Six years after its initial conclusion in 2013, original show creator Vince Gilligan helms a continuation of Jesse Pinkman’s (Aaron Paul) character arc in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. Aaron Paul effortlessly slips back into his iconic Emmy Award-winning role, which sees his shift from a fast-talking junkie to a sympathetic participant in Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) drug empire. Jesse is no longer a source of comic relief. Alongside Gilligan, Paul also serves as co-producer for the film. The film takes place immediately after Jesse escapes from his imprisonment by a neo-Nazi gang, who tortured him into cooking crystal meth, in an El Camino car.

"The film takes place immediately after Jesse escapes from his imprisonment"

As the film begins, we see a shot of the dry New Mexico landscape reminiscent of the setting in which Walter and Jesse started their partnership in the drug trade. This is revealed to be a flashback, as Jesse discusses his turbulent future with former police officer and hitman Mike Ehrmentraut in a cameo performance by Jonathan Banks. The flashback is interrupted by Jesse, who is noticeably more dishevelled and weaker, as he escapes to freedom, where he is cared for by his dim-witted but loyal friends Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) and Badger (Matt L. Jones). From this point, the film follows Jesse as he becomes a fugitive and is pursued by corrupt individuals. This is interspersed with flashbacks of Jesse’s imprisonment and his interactions with sociopath and villain Todd (Jesse Plemons), who can switch from a childlike state to a guiltless murderer in the same scene.

At two hours in length, the pacing of the film can at times seem slow and perhaps unnecessary. However, these scenes are driven by eerie tension and by Paul’s intense, emotionally driven performance as he is crippled by the memories of his traumatic torture. Whilst the film is missing fan favourites, including chemistry teacher turned ruthless drug lord Walter White and seedy criminal lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), Paul proves he doesn’t need the talent of Cranston and Odenkirk to carry this film himself. Overall, Gilligan’s film offers fans closure following the ambiguous end to Jesse’s complex character arc, providing a satisfying conclusion to a beloved character and series.

Rating: 4/5

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