Six years after the “Breaking Bad” series finale, Jesse Pinkman’s role is reprised in “El Camino,” bringing closure to the much-beloved series.
Die-hard “Breaking Bad” fans were likely disheartened when the tragic series about Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a docile chemistry teacher – turned cancer ridden, methamphetamine drug lord, came to a violent halt after five award-winning seasons.
What viewers were left with was White’s mischievous former student – turned assistant master meth chef, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), escaping from a bloody massacre – racing away in his classic El Camino, with a renewed sense of freedom.
“Breaking Bad” creator, Vince Gilligan, wrote and directed this 2-hour epilogue to his masterpiece series which, all throughout, exhibited the same magnificent New Mexican cinematography we became accustomed to throughout five seasons.
“El Camino” hits the road precisely where the series trails off, with Pinkman escaping incarceration by Neo-Nazi slave drivers, demanding he cook White’s signature blue meth. He’s seen taking off in his classic vehicle in a cathartic screaming frenzy.
The question of what led to this hysteria and where the road will eventually take him is what this film ventures to answer.
The movie unfolds with many familiar faces reminding viewers why they acquired the addiction to the series in the first place.
Oscar nominated actor, Robert Forster, delivered a compelling performance in his reprised role of Ed, “The Disappearer,” but it ultimately turned out to be one of his final acts, as he passed away from brain cancer the day “El Camino” was released.
Having been reacquainted with “Breaking Bad” via “El Camino” feels a bit like coming home, due to its comfortable yet dysfunctional familiarity. Paul nails the tone and depth his character brought to the original, but the pace doesn’t quite capture the nerve-racking exhilaration of the series. It touches more upon Pinkman’s post-traumatic angst, whilst somehow doing so without him uttering a single “bitch.”
Alternating between his current predicament and flashing back to his tormented past is how Gilligan molded the final pieces of Pinkman’s puzzle together. This was all accomplished with new, provocative dialogue amidst an awe-inspiring backdrop.
“El Camino” manages what many sequels fail to because it recaptures what initially made it so captivating. The audience will still be rooting for the anti-hero – that character who society would normally demonize due to misunderstanding their influences.
Although “El Camino” is somewhat of an ambiguous addition to “Breaking Bad’s” narrative, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable throwback that won’t stain its legacy, as many sequels have.