El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Vince Gilligan returns to the world of Breaking Bad to give us the closure none of us knew we needed
When Jesse (Aaron Paul) drove off into the night, letting loose primal screams, we knew all we needed to: he was free of his cage (literal and metaphorical) and was no longer a pawn to be used by Walter White, Uncle Jack or anyone else. Free of them, he’d be free in turn. Looking to taunt the fates by returning to what is widely regarded as one of the greatest series ever made, Gilligan gives us a closing chapter which shows that as free as Jesse might have seemed, the path he’s trodden around the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico is so well worn that he may not know how to escape it.
There’s a necessary shift in Gilligan’s writing for El Camino. His previous focus has been on schemers capable of being methodical and, when it required it, cruel. Jesse is neither of these things. He’s scarred and beaten, and prematurely aged for a 20-something. Jesse’s treatment while in captivity makes it easier to accept the 40-year-old actor returning to the role, but an excellent Jesse Plemons, back as the sociopathic Todd, takes rather more time to adjust to. Jesse responds instinctively to each hurdle he faces, and on the rare occasion that he tries to channel his inner Walt, he ends up wrong-footed.
Gilligan and his cinematographer Marshall Adams conjure up plenty of striking shots, and give the film a suitably cinematic sweep, but El Camino is, first and foremost, Paul’s show. Moving between fleeting moments in the past and a not so positive-looking present, Paul gets to rage, despair, put on false bravado, and much more besides. Weather-beaten as much as emotionally beaten, his Jesse still sets out to try and do right in a world that seems set out to do so much wrong.
Streaming on Netflix