So before we get started, there is the obvious note here that since we’re reviewing “El Camino” we’re going to be talking about the main plot points of the movie, and that includes spoilers. So if you haven’t seen the movie yet, take your time to see the movie first before reading this review.
So as a quick recap, the movie follows Jesse Pinkman (Played by Aaron Paul) immediately after the events of the series finale of Breaking Bad. To get ready for the movie, I re-watched the finale and then went right into the movie. If you can spend the 3 hours to do so, I’d highly recommend it as I think it will improve your movie watching experience.
So as Jesse escapes in the title “El Camino” he deals with the significance of being imprisoned for some amount of time, as we’re taken through his current timeline where he is attempting to get out of town, as well as a series of flashbacks in which we find out more about how that time was spent before he was rescued by Walt in the finale of Breaking Bad.
Jesse is a complicated character. He’s a drug dealer, and has done some horrible things throughout the series, but to the viewer he has always been a sympathetic character. But that is where the stress of the character shows up, as he’s not a great human being, but he’s an awful drug dealer. So the character has a lot to unpack.
In the flashbacks, Jesse is seen helping out one of the men who is keeping his captive. He deals with the struggle of staying alive, and protecting his family, while also being emotionally and physically abused. But during this time we find out one of the major plot points of the film, that the person who is keeping him captive needs his help. He has killed his housekeeper who found his stash of money hidden in encyclopedias. And he tells Jesse “I always keep my money close.”
Jesse eventually makes it back to the apartment in the present timeline, and tears it apart to try and find the money. As he discovers it, what he believes are cops enter the apartment and there is a struggle. Eventually Jesse escapes with some of the money and heads to find a key character from the last season of Breaking Bad- the vacuum cleaner repair man who can help any one disappear for the right cost.
Jesse eventually gets the money needed, after a stressful standoff with the fake CSI members. As fans of the show, we are given flashbacks where we find that Jesse has decided to disappear into Alaska. The final few minutes of the movie end with Jesse being snuck into Alaska and driving off to start his new life, with the silence of the snow and scenery really adding to the overall ambiance.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the film involves a flashback to where Jesse and Walt were recently starting the production of Meth, and Bryan Cranston reprises his role as Walter White and he and Jesse have a conversation in a diner. Walter, who often serves as a father figure to Jesse, encourages him to try and go to college. This small scene shows that Jesse and Walter at one time, before everything got out of hand, were genuinely friends and believed they were going to be able to walk away from this line of work.
So what to make of the movie? The movie itself is great for the fans, as the whereabouts and final moments for Jesse were always a big question mark from the finale. So finding out and seeing this play out was fantastic. However, the movie itself is slow, deliberate and aside from a few high intensity moments, is fairly slow. While that isn’t unusual for the “Breaking Bad Universe” it does feel slow as a movie versus a 48 minute episode of television.
El Camino isn’t a new series and story with Jesse, rather it serves as the epilogue. The bow on the gift that was Breaking Bad. The film serves as a tribute to the meth fueled binge that was Breaking Bad
For any fans of Breaking Bad, this movie is a must watch. It is a great ending for the series, and gives a fairly satisfying ending for one of the shows most beloved characters. While it doesn’t compare all the way to the excellence high bar of the source material, this is still a must watch movie. Aaron Paul as Jesse is spectacular and the way that the flashbacks fill in the blanks make this a really great movie experience.