El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)

El camino bb film poster.jpgDirector: Vince Gilligan
Running Time: 122 Minutes
Rating: 15
Starring: Aaron Paul, Charles Baker, Matt Jones, Scott MacArthur, Scott Shepherd, Tom Bower, Larry Hankin

Six years after bringing Breaking Bad to a close, Vince Gilligan returns to the main story which is so widely beloved. Rest assured, this isn't universe expansion in the manner of Better Call Saul, but a returning focus on the surviving main character. Walter White's story has been closed off after making the journey from Mr. Chips to Scarface, so the focus has shifted to Jesse Pinkman, making for a fitting epilogue to the main series.

After the events of the series finale, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) has escaped from his brutal imprisonment by Neo-Nazis, and driven to freedom in an El Camino. Now on the run, Jesse attempts to grapple with what happened while in captivity, and also tries to evade a police manhunt for him.

Picking up immediately from where the TV show ended, the story unfolds to showcase what happened to Jessie after his nightmarish ordeal. The moments of tension will shred your nerves, the humorous beats are effortlessly funny, and the character beats feel earned and downright real. It's all brought to screen with a stunning eye for visuals, just look at a shot of hands wielding a gun, emerging from the shadows, or an overhead shot of somebody searching an apartment. The jump between TV and film can feel jarring, but when the original series already felt so cinematic, the transition is a lot more smooth.

Intercut with the story are flashbacks, which allow viewers to spend a bit more time with characters they undoubtedly miss from the TV series. Yes, it can feel rather fan-servicey at times, but this can be forgiven when the flashbacks weave into the main narrative so very well. There are noticeable changes due to the bulk of time inbetween filming, but as a whole, this story has been satisfyingly delivered.

Central to it all is Aaron Paul, an actor whose strong performance changed Vince Gilligan's idea of how long to keep Jessie on the show for. This role allowed Paul to shoot to well deserved fame, but his career post-Pinkman hasn't earned him the starring roles he most assuredly deserves. This was his breakthrough role, and long gap be damned, Paul's return to the character feels like he never truly left. He understands Jessie's headspace so very well, and captures all the character has been through so effortlessly. He's been coming into his own throughout the series, growing up in his own way, and this is a necessary closer to his journey, brilliantly brought alive by all.

Whether we needed it or not, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie is a fantastic piece of closure to one of TV's best characters. It's also a thrilling and emotional film to boot. But after all that, we still don't have an answer as to whether Huell is still in that safe house. Sequel idea?