Netflix: El Camino

by Hans A. Carpenter

hans@freeburgtribune.com

Release Date: October 11

Director: Vince Gilligan

Starring: Aaron Paul

Mister Marquee Says: LEGENDARY

Number: 5/5

SPOILERS FOR BREAKING BAD! I’m warning you, there are Breaking Bad spoilers in this review for those of you who haven’t binged it yet sometime this decade.

Okay, now that that’s out of our way, after Walter White freed Jesse (Aaron Paul) from captivity in the Neo Nazi compound, Jesse has to find a way out of Albuquerque. This won’t be easy, and Jesse is the subject of a police manhunt.

El Camino is a small story. It wraps up Jesse’s ending in Breaking Bad which was left ambiguous at the end of the series. Vince Gilligan doubles down on the two things that made Breaking Bad the phenomenon it became, great characters and tension. There are so many great tense scenes in El Camino, and the western roots are on full display with standoffs aplenty. Gilligan resists the urge to go too big with the action.

Many memorable characters from the original series return in the form of flashbacks (how else can they, almost everyone Jesse knew died by the end of the series.) These never felt like hollow fan service. These scenes were mostly quiet moments that thematically tie in to Jesse’s desperate attempt to escape the horror of his predicament and start a new life fresh. Some of the best scenes of this extended ending come in the form of flashbacks to Jesse’s captivity. These flashbacks play a part in Jesse’s escape, but also show just how horrible an experience he went through.

Jesse Plemons as Todd is perhaps the most unsettling character in the entire series who we only got for season five. If you’re not a fan of Breaking Bad, this isn’t for you. It’s not much of a stand-alone, although Gilligan does a decent job of keeping it accessible since on the surface it is a really simple story. If you are a fan of Breaking Bad, you’ll probably really enjoy this movie, but don’t go into it expecting anything more than a small, character-driven ending for Jesse Pinkman. That worked for me in a big way. Your mileage may very.

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