El Camino: A Breaking Bad Story – Review

Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie – Courtesy of Netflix.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Story is a sequel (of sorts) focusing on Jesse Pinkman after he escapes from captivity in Todd’s El Camino, Pinkman must embrace and confront the past to develop his future. Like any movie made from a TV series, there’s much to consider; film and television exist in different mediums and thus finding the right tone to strike is perhaps this films greatest hurdle, and greatest achievement.

The film is more than just a continuation of Jesse’s story after the events of Breaking Bad but a meditative reflection on the character as he struggles with his past while trying to create a future for himself. If the final episodes of Breaking Bad are committed to closing out the iconic character arc of Walter White, then El Camino: A Breaking Bad Story serves as Jesse’s closing character arc.

The film uses well-placed flashbacks to flesh out the missing pieces of Jesse Pinkman’s story which mirror the story currently happening in the present. The intercutting from past to present also utilises the opportunity to bring back characters from the show’s past in a way that is meaningful to the storytelling and less as a way to pander to the show’s fans.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad simply does not work without Aaron Paul’s performance who transports right back to the 2013 version of the character with ease. One could make a case for this being Paul’s best performance as Jesse Pinkman as he has the natural ability to accurately convey trauma and desperation. The movie flows by seamlessly as the slow-burn epilogue balances its use of flashbacks in a way that keeps things interesting while also editing on emotion even if it takes a bit too long along the way.

Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie – Courtesy of Netflix.

El Camino doesn’t bring back the cinematographer of Breaking Bad Michael Slovis but still, Marshall Adams knows exactly how to frame Albuquerque in the way the show had done. Adams closely collaborates with Gilligan to create an atmosphere that is so authentic to Breaking Bad that it could be mistaken with old footage. The film features many dynamic shots including a single time-lapse of eight Jesse’s through a bird’s eye view. 

El Camino: A Breaking Bad story recreates many of the old sets from the last season of Breaking Bad and blends them in the film. The hairstyling and makeup are particularly impressive as careful attention to detail is evident in each scene and helps the audience differentiate between its flashbacks. The film doesn’t have a prominent score and it doesn’t have a huge impact in the film but it succeeds in enhancing the Breaking Bad atmosphere by slightly implementing its theme. 

Vince Gilligan musters up complete control over this Breaking Bad property and gives us a reflective piece of film that serves as a reminder that you may never get a TV show like Breaking Bad again. Emotionally-driven writing and scrumptious cinematography, paired with a career-best performance from Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie delivers a fitting end that is worthy of the Breaking Bad name.

8.7/10

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