“El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” stars Aaron Paul, Jesse Plemons, Krysten Ritter, Charles Baker, Matt Jones, Jonathan Banks, Larry Hankin, and Bryan Cranston. Released on October 11, 2019, the film is about a former meth cook who is hunted down by law enforcements.
The film is written and directed by Vince Gilligan, who also wrote screenplays for “Wilder Napalm”, “Home Fries”, and “Hancock”. It is based on the television series, “Breaking Bad”, created by Gilligan. Whenever there’s something that’s been getting great word of mouth, I usually do my part in seeing what all the hubbub is about, especially if that something is the one that is based on an adult-rated show. Today, I’ll be looking at a film from Netflix that’s based on one of the most well-received television shows of all time. Since its debut in 2008, “Breaking Bad” has been beloved by critics and audiences with its thrilling story and riveting characters, leading it to earn numerous awards and spawn a spin-off prequel series, “Better Call Saul, in 2015, two years after the show ended. It is one of the shows that everyone couldn’t stop talking about. Well, everyone except me, of course. I really didn’t get a chance to watch the show despite hearing some great things about it, so feel free to spew some hate on me. But I did watch the “recap” version of the show before I watched the film. That has to count for something. Because of this, I’ll be reviewing it as its own film without comparing it to the show, but don’t worry, I’ll try to keep it as fair as possible for all of you “Breaking Bad” fans that are reading this.
Taking place after the events of the show’s final episode, the film focuses on Jesse Pinkman (Paul), a former partner of Walter White (Cranston) who goes on the run from the authorities. With the help of his closest allies, Jesse will have to stay one step ahead of them and escape his past in order to gain his freedom. The story is best described as an epilogue to “Breaking Bad”, showcasing what Jesse has been up to since the events of the series finale. It also represents some flashbacks that involve him and the people he encountered and befriended before the events of “El Camino”, such as Todd Alquist (Plemons), Mike Ehrmantraut (Banks), and his former partner Walter White. One thing you should know about the film is that it’s definitely made for those who followed the show from start to finish. Fans will have no problem getting attached to the film’s plot and characters, but for those who watch the film without any knowledge of the source material, it can be a bit confusing despite having some small information on the characters. Aside from that, this is a pretty solid "on-the-run" crime drama that’s interestingly more character-driven than thrilling. The pacing can be a bit slow at times and the lack of strong heart-pounding thrills may turn certain people off, but Vince Gilligan was able to make the dramatic elements as engaging and well-crafted as the other character-driven dramas. You can definitely tell that Gilligan wanted to make a proper closure to his beloved series in terms of his direction, his screenplay, the stellar cinematography, and his passion for the characters he created, and it shows. He might not get any awards for all of those qualities, but it’s easy for me to admit that he has a respectable sense of style and substance. Much of the cast from the show reprised their roles for “El Camino”, and they all did a brilliant job with their performances, especially Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman. He absolutely nailed his role as a broken man trying to have a better future for himself. Even though I haven’t watched the show, I can already tell that Jesse has been through a lot just by the look of his face and his actions, which gave me an acceptable reason to care about him. I also have to note that Robert Forster is the second-best part of the film, in my opinion. He reprised his role from the show as Ed Galbraith, an associate who specializes in relocating people and giving them new identities. This was his last film role before he sadly passed away on the day of its release. Rest in peace, good sir.
Overall, as its own film, “El Camino” is an engaging and well-shot character-driven drama that’s powered by strong performances and an interesting plot. As a “Breaking Bad” film, it’s a suitable conclusion to one of the best television shows of all time. A worthy recommendation for fans of the show as well as those who are into well-made character-driven films. I really didn’t have a lot of issues while watching this film, but I do need to watch the show sooner or later in order to fully understand the “Breaking Bad” universe. Again, I apologize to the “Breaking Bad” fans for not watching the show before the film. Blame my curiosity.