El Camino- A Breaking Bad Movie
Cast: Aaron Paul, Charles Baker, Matt Jones, Jesse Plemons
Director: Vince Gilligan
As much as one would expect for things in the aftermath of Jesse Pinkman's (Aaron Paul) escape from captivity to unfold at a faster, slicker pace, film director Vince Gilligan has a rather subtle and subdued story in El Camino, which is streaming on Netflix.
The film a sequel to the superhit AMC series Breaking Bad and works as a closure to the franchise, only it is mundane and lacklustre. For all the hype surrounding its announcement and premiere, it falls way short of expectations, even failing to meet general entertainment standards.
As one would expect, El Camino is dipped in Breaking Bad tropes, unfortunately without half the thrills. You wait for something exciting to happen, plot-wise. An anticipation, a tense chase, a hunt down, but only one scene in the entirety of the film's two hour runtime gets you to the edge of your seat (the Mexican standoff scene).
The film opens with Jesse driving away from the scene of the crime and henceforth we follow him and his search for redemption, which also makes one wonder at some points if another crime film was really necessary. Meaning, in a town filled with thugs, drug dealers and unassuming criminals, who have aced their disguise, can there be empathy for any character at all, let alone Jesse? In that case, how reliable is the connection between us, the film and its characters.
Full marks for style, but El Camino is sub-standard content. At times, it feels more like an episode of the series than a stand-alone film. Jesse is trapped in his hometown, but in his head, he is caught up in moments from the past. His short-lived affair with Jane, his chemistry with Walter and Mike and his traumatic days in captivity keep finding him, as he finally attempts to escape to Alaska.
Paul's performance, the only pleasing and acceptable thing about the film, is nuanced here and he has effortlessly returned to the skin of his character, six years down the line. Beyond that, El Camino is a big let down. One thing it does right that it lays the groundwork for a spin-off series on Jesse, maybe. It covers no real cinematic or storytelling grounds otherwise.