No easy getaways
Review: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Starring Aaron Paul
Directed by Vince Gilligan
After the final episode of Breaking Bad finished Walter White’s story so perfectly six years ago, you would be forgiven for wondering if there was any need to follow it up. While the prequel spinoff Better Call Saul shows that there are stories left to tell in that universe, there was legitimate reason to question whether or not El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movieneeded to exist.
Thankfully, watching the film proves to be a rewarding experience that answers more than one question about what happens next for key characters.
The film takes place moments after the events of Breaking Bad’s final season. With Walter White now dead (despite dedicated fan theories to the contrary) along with most of those who led to his forced labour at the hands of neo-Nazis, Jesse must struggle to stay one step ahead of law enforcement and those that would seek his recapture.
All the while, there are questions about whether or not Jesse escape the consequences of his past, intertwined as it is with the legacy of his own crimes and those of others. Early in the piece, we are told that there is no truly setting things right. With physical and psychological scars, Jesse must live with what he and others have done.
El Camino recaptures Breaking Bad’s trademark tension. There are many situations and scenarios where viewers simply don’t know how Jesse will escape. This is thankfully balanced by moments of humour, along with cameos and other moments of fan service.
Viewers familiar with Breaking Bad’s and Better Call Saul’s time jumps will be prepared for El Camino’s non-linear structure. As Jesse’s struggle for freedom continues, the film flashes back to events that take place during Breaking Bad’s arc. All of this, however, is new material.
The film’s cast deliver this material strongly, with a number of performances that are worth singling out. One of these is Aaron Paul’s depiction of Jesse, which convincingly shows him with all of the signs of PTSD without making this overly stereotypical.
A number of Breaking Bad’s key cast members return (but avoiding spoilers means Insights won’t reveal exactly who). While six years’ time means they sometimes look different to how they did when the show was made, these differences are never too jarring.
The film’s conclusion is a fitting end to Jesse’s story, one that seems fitting without being clichéd.
El Camino is a fitting conclusion to Breaking Bad that places a bow on what might have been the best television show of all time, rewarding fans for years of viewership. More importantly, its tale of redemption and overcoming suffering if one that should provide food for thought and fertile ground for discussion about the nature of sin, forgiveness, and moving on.
El Camino is now streaming on Netflix
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor