Tuesday, October 15, 2019

[Review] El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

It seems like forever ago since Jesse Pinkman drove off into the uncertainty of night during the finale of AMC’s phenomenal series “Breaking Bad.”

Now, Netflix picks up the pieces with the feature-length film titled El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. The question with this sort of thing is always: Is it needed? Is there anything more to add to the story? Well, thankfully Vince Gilligan and company make it all worthwhile, as El Camino serves as an effective revisit of the “Breaking Bad” world and a compelling drive into the messy aftermath of Pinkman’s story. 

Emmy-winner Aaron Paul (he’s fantastic here) returns as Pinkman, and the film picks up right where the series left off. At this point, he’s a fugitive who’s wanted by more than just the cops, which makes for a great on-the-run plot. It’s a getaway on top of a getaway. Flashbacks are cooked in throughout, adding some meditative sympathy to Jesse’s character. He always was the true heart of the series — as moral as you can get when you’re caught up in a meth-making empire, I suppose. Is Pinkman’s fate too far gone? Did he get in too deep? One thing’s for certain — he’ll never be the same. 

While El Camino clocks in at a proper two hours, it feels less like its own movie and more like an extended ”Breaking Bad” episode, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, given its Netflix home. Familiar faces show up along the way, and old haunts are stumbled into. The cinematography is exquisite and evocative, providing plenty of strikingly crafted shots (and I’m not just talking about the pistol fires), from the more contained images to the stunning views of wide, scenic deserts. Slowly but surely, the pace cruises along like a ticking clock (even the film’s score sounds like one). It’s a burning cigarette. A belt about to snap. A chain ready to break.

El Camino stacks on the intense dilemmas and the quietly explosive scenes that “Breaking Bad” fans love. It’s a rusted vehicle of outlaws and misfits. A cactus-pricked tale of repercussions and rear-view mirror reflections. An oil-soaked shot at redemption. An engine that just won’t quit. 

( 8/10 )

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