El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie is an astonishing continuation of a beloved television series that ended on a rather shocking note. As I'm sure many fans were, I was both incredibly anxious to see this new creation by Vince Gilligan and also petrified that maybe this would somehow ruin the entire show. Now after the credits roll and I've let it soak in, Breaking Bad is over again...and this time I think it's for real.
Vince Gilligan returns to the director's chair for one last go at the Breaking Bad story (minus the ongoing Better Call Saul prequel series) and it is an immaculate effort to say the least. El Camino is gorgeous and exactly like how a Breaking Bad film should be presented, the Marshall Adams' cinematography is just outrageous and makes us all long for the air days of Breaking Bad. Gilligan is a creative director and with his work here, he is just as creative, albeit a tad toned down from the ridiculous nature of the finale.
For a show that ended back in 2015, it's incredible that Gilligan got to continue with this conclusive finale with such flawless continuity. Apart from our main objective which is to find Jesse making his way to a new life, we are thrown into multiple flashbacks with beloved and not so beloved characters. While I appreciate seeing these familiar faces, one of which brought a tear to my eye, it all feels tacked on in some sense. For the majority of them, none of these flashbacks are with breathing characters, and therefore weren't entirely needed apart from a couple to explain Jesse's actions. As Jesse tries to make his way to a fresh start he must battle his way mentally and physically against the searching police, as well as others who are hot on his trail. The plot is simple, but at times takes a little too long focusing on the past before Jesse's present circumstances. However, it all comes back around for a cohesive experience that perfectly concludes Jesse's story.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Aaron Paul's return to the world of Breaking Bad is an absolute triumph, as this is the role he was born to play and proves that given the proper materials he can lead a film. Aside from Jesse Pinkman, we have plenty of familiar faces making an appearance throughout El Camino. While some are certainly more of a glorified cameo than a story defining character, it remains still immensely satisfying to have them return for one last scene. El Camino brings some top notch nostalgia to the forefront. However, El Camino does introduce a few new characters and intertwine them into the story of Breaking Bad with a favorable outcome, or at least most of the time. I thoroughly enjoyed the addition of these new faces, but it also felt kind of odd to be introducing some final new characters in the (possibly) final installment of Breaking Bad.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Out of everything in the film, David Porter's score was one thing that certainly didn't work for me. Maybe it's the fact that it's been a hot minute since being in the world of Breaking Bad, but the score here seemed to intervene in the worst possible ways, leaving me more distracted than haunted by it. However, the sound design is exquisite, showcasing every little sound just like how we'd hear it in a real situation and successfully heightening moments of intensity along the way. The police sirens, guns readying, and the sound of a deserted environment all projected some limited story elements to entirely new depths. What could have been a complete misfire is salvaged by the choices of the sound design around the invasive composition.
The damage inflicted to Jesse during his time in a cage is very present from the first sign of Pinkman, and it is a brutal realization for fans to see this character return liberated but appearing just as broken. El Camino breathes the same air as Breaking Bad and continues breathtakingly without a hitch. The wonderful production design, costume design, and makeup deserve an eruptive round of applause for being able to recapture the essence of Breaking Bad flawlessly.
El Camino isn't a sequel to the legacy of Breaking Bad, but a missing piece of the puzzle that some fans will die to acknowledge and others would have rather let their imaginations run wild. Who would have known that four years after the series finale we would be itching for our fix of the nostalgia, and oh boy, did El Camino deliver. Paul's silent tormented performance, the nostalgia built up since the final episode, mixed with the utter beauty of the cinematography and Gilligan's triumphant return to the story culminates into El Camino being a lovely epilogue to the television masterpiece that is Breaking Bad.