Review: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

Drama, Vince Gilligan, Vince Gilligan, Aaron Paul, El Camino, 2019, review

Plot:  In the wake of his dramatic escape from captivity, Jesse must come to terms with his past in order to forge some kind of future.

Drama, Vince Gilligan, Vince Gilligan, Aaron Paul, El Camino, 2019, review

Review: The day has finally come. It has been six years since the series finale of AMC's acclaimed Breaking Bad and after learning that it was filmed in secret, we finally have the chance to watch Vince Gilligan's feature length follow-up to his masterpiece, EL CAMINO: A BREAKING BAD MOVIE. Clocking in at just two hours, EL CAMINO is more of a curio for die-hard fans of Breaking Bad rather than a film that stands on it's own merits. While it is far from "bad", it is nowhere near as good as it should have been. In fact, EL CAMINO doesn't really offer anything necessary to what we got in the five seasons of the show. Sure, it gives us some definitive answers to ambiguous questions from the series finale, but they are questions that really didn't need to be answered.

Picking up immediately after the final moments of the series finale, EL CAMINO: A BREAKING BAD MOVIE is a mix of what came next for Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) with a lot of flashbacks. These flashbacks include moments from throughout the run of Breaking Bad but many that fill in the blanks from Jesse's incarceration at the hands of Uncle Jack (Michael Bowen) and Todd (Jesse Plemons). Plemons was always an enigmatic character and his fate in the series finale, amongst many of the familiar faces seen in this movie, meant that they could only appear via flashback. This means that the linear path of Breaking Bad leaves little room for changing the narrative, giving EL CAMINO the feel of being a collection of deleted scenes repurposed for a new episode rather than a fully realized film.

In many ways, EL CAMINO: A BREAKING BAD MOVIE is the opposite end of the spectrum from Better Call Saul. When that spin-off was announced, it seemed like a terrible idea. But, as that series prepares to enter it's fifth season, VInce Gilligan and co-creator Peter Gould are adept at taking ideas that should not work and making them into something special. Penned and directed by Gilligan, EL CAMINO: A BREAKING BAD MOVIE feels more like a reunion than a worthwhile sequel because it treads so little new ground. If anything, this is a nice swan song for fans and gives Jesse Pinkman a more complete close to his arc than he got in the series finale.

While it would be easy to dismiss this movie as more of an extended episode of Breaking Bad, EL CAMINO does have a larger visual scope than the TV series. Vince Gilligan and cinematographer Marshall Adams make great use of the New Mexico landscape with wide shots that linger. Every scene looks crisper and more cinematic than Breaking Bad did and that goes for the score as well. While the music by composer Dave Porter follows the same themes as his work on Breaking Bad, everything sounds grander and more ominous here. All of this helps accentuate the suspense and action sequences which do feel more substantial than what was previously broadcast during the tenure of the AMC show.

Drama, Vince Gilligan, Vince Gilligan, Aaron Paul, El Camino, 2019, review

The best way to look at EL CAMINO: A BREAKING BAD MOVIE is that Breaking Bad was always the story of Walter White. It focused on his descent from kind chemistry teacher to monstrous kingpin. While White earned his redemption, Jesse always came up as ancillary. Aaron Paul's performance was just as vital to Breaking Bad as Bryan Cranston's and EL CAMINO puts the focus squarely on Jesse, meaning Paul gets to examine how he tries to redeem himself. All of the pain Jesse endured is put on display in EL CAMINO but all it really serves to do is explain what Jesse's final cries of freedom already conveyed in the Breaking Bad finale.

EL CAMINO: A BREAKING BAD MOVIE is an enjoyable experience but not one meant to be watched by itself. Like an extended epilogue, EL CAMINO could certainly pave the way for more tales focused on Jesse Pinkman, but it doesn't necessarily have to. I enjoyed spending my time with all of these familiar faces and even how it connects Breaking Bad even further to Better Call Saul. Visually, it feels grand and cinematic but the content just never warrants existing. I am sure all of you who were anxiously awaitng EL CAMINO will enjoy one more foray into this story and hopefully you are not as underwhelmed as I was.

EL CAMINO: A BREAKING BAD MOVIE is now streaming on Netflix.

Review: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie



About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.