Words: Ella Kemp
Picking up where, arguably, one of the greatest TV shows of all-time left off, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie gives wayward meth cook and dealer Jesse Pinkman the epilogue he deserves. After five seasons of drama and trauma, the film no one asked for adds a post-credits scene to an already perfect finale. It’s not the first time something like this has happened, and it probably won’t be the last. But the lesson is still the same: if you’re thinking of making a sequel, a spin-off, an aftermath or whatever else it is – if it ain’t broke, please do not try and fix it.
The film focuses on Jesse (Aaron Paul) as he flees the clutches of those who, literally, kept him in a cage. He visits old friends (Skinny Pete and Badger are blessed with tremendous one-liners) and finishes off old business, tying up loose ends with the same steely resentment that powered his character throughout the series. But in Jesse’s final moments on the show, he was seen driving away, laughing maniacally into a better future. It was a thrilling, open ending. Now, every question is answered and yet his fate feels no more satisfying than what we could have guessed it to be.
- Read more: The ‘Breaking Bad’ movie ‘El Camino’: release date, trailers, plot hints and everything we know so far
Paul puts in the same hardened commitment to his performance, but the shifted dynamic doesn’t favour Jesse so well. He was the unpredictable wrecking ball that balanced Walter White (Bryan Cranston) out, he was the lover, the son, the friend who did his best but often ended up disappointing everyone. By giving him the spotlight in El Camino, cracks begin to show in how convincing and compelling Jesse can be without anyone else, and the film only retreads old paths without adding anything new.
And yet, the path itself is also lacking – crucial characters are altogether absent, deaths feel too easy, escapes too clean and big-money deals too predictable. There are some tender moments – a sweet goodbye with Skinny Pete, a wise and well-chosen conversation with one of the show’s most heartbreaking female characters. But most emotional moments are indulgent and inconclusive, adding unnecessary layers of fan service to an already complete product. The film ends as the show did – Jesse braves his future alone. It’s just puzzling to watch two more hours and reach, essentially, the exact same conclusion.