Who doesn’t like Breaking Bad? You? Get out of my sight! What the hell is wrong with you?
For the rest of planet Earth, I’m here with a beautiful early Christmas present that Vince Gilligan plopped on my Netflix queue, El Camino. A Breaking Bad story I wasn’t aware I wanted to see.
For those of you familiar with Walt, Jesse, Saul, Todd, and all the merry meth makers of Albuquerque this movie will feel like a perfect fit. Sure, Jesse Plemons apparently gained about fifty pounds in his face which is really apparent if you shotgunned the entire show just before the movie was released.
Which I did.
The movie starts off minutes after the series ended. Jesse is still driving the El Camino he grabbed on the way out of the compound he was held in and laughing uncontrollably. His joy is soon tempered by the glow of cop car lights heading towards him.
And so begins a pretty harrowing story about how Jesse will escape not only the compound but also the authorities and his own guilt.
El Camino has a pretty darn good tale with a lot of flashbacks to the series. Jane, Mike, Todd, and even Walt show up in these but as they are all dead, don’t expect anything new with them.
Vince does a great job of taking you back to this universe and it fits seamlessly with the show proper. The only cracks are the fact that these actors have unavoidably aged. While Aaron Paul still looks great, having Mike refer to this clearly 40-year-old as a teenager is amusing as well as the aforementioned Plemons weight gain.
But if you can get past those nit-picks, the story finally finishes Jesse’s story with a bit less ambiguity. Some may not like that, preferring the open-endedness of Jesse’s future but I don’t think that goes away after this. It’s just a little more hopeful.
The actors that do come back do a great job. Badger and Skinny Pete show why they are always good to have your back, Old Joe with the scrapyard dishes out a few member-berries but nothing too obtrusive and the recently late Robert Forster comes back as the vacuum cleaner selling identity man. All slide back into their roles as if nothing had changed.
The flashback sequences are also a treat. If anyone looks like they haven’t changed much, it’s Bryan Cranston. Even though it’s a flashback, any new footage is great to see.
If I had any complaints, it’s that the big moment for Jesse that he needs to overcome felt a bit unrealistic. However if you’re going to put him in that odd situation, they certainly executed it in the most awesome way possible so I call it a wash.
My real complaint is that like it or not, Breaking Bad was Walt’s story and how he affected all those in his orbit. Jesse having to be focus still feels a bit like an epilogue rather than a big moment. I suppose that can’t be helped. The gravitas of El Camino is just not where the biggest moments of Breaking Bad were.
Also, if you want any news on Skyler, Flynn, or Marie, you’re not going to get it here.
Maybe I’m nitpicking but as a completist, I’m glad this story is told. It finally puts to rest any lingering questions and does so in typical Gilligan fashion. It may not be the biggest story in the saga but it’s still satisfying.