It’s been six years since Breaking Bad ended its series run. Vince Gilligan introduced audiences to the rich and seedy world of ordinary people turned drug lords. Viewers met Walt and Jesse in 2008 and followed them to notoriety and their inevitable downfall. The series ends with Walt’s well deserved demise and Jesse driving away from enslavement at top speed. This is where El Camino begins.
El Camino is aptly named as the film centers on Jesse’s road to starting over. In a sort of Sliding Doors take, Jesse wants the life he would have had if he had chosen to get out when he had the chance. El Camino is the story of Jesse Pinkman trying to get a second chance at life.
Just like the series, the show features Gilligan’s dynamic writing and character development. In a show full of murder and hardened criminals, it is stunning when true friendship and love is displayed. Audiences will laugh when Old Joe,played by Larry Hankin, from the junkyard shows up ready to lend a hand. The late Robert Forster returns as Ed to give Jesse a chance to act like a fool and a touch of the old Jesse from before his character encountered such a bad twist of fate. In a series of touching scenes, Skinny Pete and Badger, played by Charles Baker and Matt Jones deliver truly moving performances as they reach out to show empathy and compassion for their estranged friend.
In the violent world of Breaking Bad, violence is expected. While light on the violence, El Camino has some fantastic action scenes with elements of the Wild West which pairs well with the overall lawlessness of the show. Aaron Paul gives a spectacular performance in this fast-paced film as he must race against time and contend with PTSD and any left over villains that stand between him and his efforts to escape his past. True to the tone of the show, there are some intense moments where you will find yourself holding your breath followed by comedic relief.
Flashbacks allow us to see elements of deceased characters. There is a moment between Walt and Jesse that reminds viewers about their bond. Mike Ehrmantraut attempts to give Jesse some good advice. El Camino also offers up an incredibly eerie scene with Todd, Jack’s go getter, eager to please nephew. Before he was lovable Ed Blumquist on Fargo or the oddball neighbor on Game Night, Jesse Plemons played Todd. Todd was a young criminal trying to please his Nazi uncle and gain favor with Walter White. Walt quickly liked how Todd did as he was told, a character flaw in Jesse Pinkman. Viewers have always known Todd was a killer, but El Camino shows the depths of his derangement. Jesse Plemons plays this wonderfully.
El Camino serves up nostalgia and and an ending for one of television’s most beloved criminals. It will conjure up what viewers loved about Breaking Bad and serves as an epilogue to the show. If you’re looking to see what other characters are up to, then prepare for disappointment. El Camino is simply the story of Jesse Pinkman, no more no less.