‘El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie’ is Kinda Bad


Veronika Lee, Entertainment Editor

Note: This review does not contain spoilers but will reference some cameos.


Americans love Jesse Pinkman. A quick scan of a well-curated Twitter or Facebook feed will reveal that most likely both your diehard conservative aunt in West Virginia and your comic book enthusiast pals in Santa Monica have a fondness for Aaron Paul’s portrayal of a bitchy bird with a broken wing. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why America has a soft spot for the meth cooking, frequently swearing, 1990s angst ridden white guy who still seems to shop PacSun on the regular. But then we remember all he has endured – the fractured relationship with his parents, the loss of the true love of his life, torment and abuse at the hands of bloodthirsty drug dealers.


Knowing full well that America was worried about the whereabouts of our beloved Jesse Pinkman, Vince Gilligan and Netflix teamed up, 6 years after “Breaking Bad’s” conclusion, to let us know once and for all that yes, Walt did die and yes, Jesse got away. I’m just not necessarily sure that a two- hour Netflix film was the way to go about it.


The first hour of the film is painfully slow. The three-minute long refresher that prefaces it, highlighting the plot of “Breaking Bad,” actually is more exciting and fulfilling – illuminating some of the cast’s best work. And that’s where “El Camino” really falls flat. Despite Aaron Paul being a charismatic and stellar actor (see his recap on “Jimmy Kimmel Live”), the world of morally atrocious Albuquerque suffers here without the combination of the entire cast’s titanic acting skills. We see some nice cameos, even one by Heisenberg himself that provides a semi-touching moment, and we are reminded of how many father figures Jesse has had in his short lifetime. (One haunting father figure who proves to be essential to Jesse’s redemption is played by Robert Forster, who appeared on the original AMC series. Sadly, at the time of the film’s debut Friday, Oct. 11, Forster passed away.)


But without the aggression of Dean Norris as Hank, the slickness of Bob Odenkirk as Saul, the nagging of Anna Gunn as Skylar,  or the icy fear of God instilled in us by Giancarlo Esposito as Gus, it doesn’t feel like Jesse, in this procedural escapee film, is really escaping anything that bad. (Despite scenes of him locked in basements, rolling out dead bodies – as one does.) Jesse Plemons (known to some of us as Kirsten Dunst’s husband IRL) fumbles on the screen, having significantly aged since his character’s exeunt in 2013 and doesn’t quite deliver to a thirsty audience the cast members it really desires. The weight of their absence is heavy throughout the plot. 


Several months ago, when “Game of Thrones” concluded, “Breaking Bad” cast members were a bit boastful on Twitter about their series having ended “flawlessly.” Regrettably, it appears that the Netflix add-on has tarnished the reputation of the series that many Americans would consider the greatest television series in our history. 


Photo courtesy of crises_crs via Flickr Creative Commons