El Camino review: Breaking Bad movie finally gives fans the closing

El Camino review: Continuing right where the successful drama ended, the Netflix tracking film shows Jesse Pinkman’s next move … although it’s not the thriller you expected.

El Camino review: Breaking Bad movie finally gives fans the closing
Photograph: Ben Rothstein/Netflix

Jesse Pinkman was introduced to the pantheon of pop culture through a combination of innocence (soon lost), idiocy (largely maintained) and a politically incorrect tendency to add each sentence with the word “bitch.” Now in El Camino, the continuation of the film of the successful anti-hero drama Breaking Bad, has the opportunity to conclude its story. He returned, but the story went on, his phrase now notable for his absence.

The Road begins where Breaking Bad ended. Pinkman (Aaron Paul) has been released from the infernal prison where he was confined by neo-Nazis, forced to cook industrial-grade glass methamphetamines. The man who made the release was Walter White, Pinkman’s mentor, turned into a nemesis and chemistry teacher, turned into the drug lord. Now White is dead, however, killed during the rescue mission. Meanwhile, Pinkman is accelerating in a muscle car (the 1978 Chevrolet El Camino) and is heading, according to creator Vince Gilligan, to “something better.”

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El Camino review, Except, it turns out that it isn’t. The first scene shows Pinkman putting his foot on the ground, looking down as the police make their way to the crime scene. From there, he goes to the house of his friends Badger and Skinny Pete, where he eats noodles and falls asleep. After a brief meeting in which his friends go further to help him, “friend, you are my hero and that shit,” says Skinny Pete, he leaves again, but only another block in Albuquerque, his hometown, and another tense moment

The title of this “Breaking Bad movie”, then, is a kind of wrong address. El Camino (Spanish for “road” or “road”) is not the story of a man who skips the city. Rather, it is someone who is trapped, not only in New Mexico but in his head, bound by the trauma he has just experienced and the memories that help him, finally, to decide where to go next.

There has been much speculation among Breaking Bad enthusiasts, of which there are many, about which characters from the original program would return here. The answer is several, including the big hitters, although most of them are dead. The Camino cuts continuously between the 48 hours following Jesse’s escape and a series of flashbacks, some of his time in captivity and others from before. Most cameos should come as a surprise, but it doesn’t feel like spoiling things too much to notice that Jesse Plemons has an outstanding twist like Todd, a child sociopath who is a good captor of Jesse during his time at the box.

El Camino review, The film follows an interesting structure and one that contradicts the impression given by pre-launch marketing. Gilligan, who repeats his own role as a writer and director, has always been good at keeping his audience alert. His fondness for brave cinematography is exhibited once again, with a time-lapse sequence with eight Jesses crawling through a house demonstrating a prominent moment. But while it has style and content, El Camino feels more like a long-term TV episode than a real movie. It is too compact and fragmented to really support itself, and viewers who have not seen the previous 62 hours of Breaking Bad will probably have a hard time enjoying it.

That El Camino is a Netflix production, which will be launched today in the transmission giant with only a small amount of film screenings (and none in the United Kingdom), could explain this construction.

However, where it excels is in giving Jesse’s character some closure. Paul told the Guardian this week that Breaking Bad “changed my life.” For starters, he won three Emmy and, like a methamphetamine bonnet who had successfully hidden his money in the desert, he probably prepared it for life. But it is also true that Paul has had trouble finding a role that would allow him to leave Pinkman behind him. It is the project for which he remains best known: a privilege but also a tie. Here, he is allowed to go ahead and leave behind both the criminal clown and the haunted victim of the series.