REVIEW: EL CAMINO: A BREAKING BAD MOVIE serves as a fitting capstone to the legacy of Breaking Bad


Writer/Director Vince Gilligan delivers an epilogue to his classic series Breaking Bad with a feature focusing on Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman that serves as a final visit to what made the series so engrossing.

Fans of Breaking Bad were understandably shocked a few months ago when it came out that Vince Gilligan had secretly directed a Breaking Bad feature film that followed up directly from the series finale and let us know what happened to fellow series protagonist Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) after Walter White (Bryan Cranston) freed him from Todd (Jesse Plemons) and his uncle’s gang of Neo-Nazis. Fans wondered whether the film would be an unnecessary exercise or what could it add to the rich legacy of the award-winning series. El Camino adds a human dimension to capstone the story of Breaking Bad and the consequences of your actions. As Jesse learns there is a chance to still do something special with his life by making your own way as two different characters tell him.

The film is largely an escape caper, with Jesse trying to get out of town after the massacre Walter delivers at Jack’s compound. The film really only works as an epilogue to Breaking Bad; if you haven’t seen the series, you will largely be lost. If you have, you’ll be rewarded with payoffs to small plot points of Season 5 episodes. You’ll get a lot of deep cut cameos. But what you will mainly get is the story of a man doing what he has to do to survive with flashbacks to events that we never saw in Breaking Bad that helped shape the character. Without spoiling anything, Jesse has to deal with a new antagonist in the film named Neil (Scott MacArthur from HBO’s The Righteous Gemstones) and MacArthur does a great job in the role, throwing himself into the running as one of the series’ most interesting antagonists. The less you know going into the film the better, but the film really works and Paul really shines in his last go-around as Jesse, bringing a deeper pathos to the already rich character he has developed. The film isn’t without some flaws; it’s supposed to pick up immediately after the events of Breaking Bad’s finale, which was nine years ago. That’s a fact that you can’t really hide as some characters from the show like Skinny Pete may look ostensibly the same, while others from the show have noticeably aged and there’s not too much you can do to hide that. After a while, you notice it less, but it can be a bit jarring for others.

Overall, El Camino is a tense, compelling character piece made as a love letter to the fans of Breaking Bad. If you loved the show, you’ll dig this film. But if the show was something that didn’t capture your interest, the backstory heavy film is probably not for you. While Felina was the finale of the series and the epilogue for Walter White’s story, El Camino serves the same purpose for Jesse, who was largely shortchanged in the series finale to serve Walter’s story. This is the finale for Jesse, but also a new beginning for him.