The first thing that probably popped into Breaking Bad fans’ head when there were rumblings of a follow up movie possibly being made is: “Oh God, why in the fuck would they mess with perfection?” Breaking Bad is one of the best television shows ever made. Hell, one could argue, probably the best. My youngest brother got me to watch it, and I finally decided to do so really late to the party. I binge watched the shit out of it on Netflix and got caught up to watch the final six episodes live. And I got to watch that oh so perfect finale live. How many television shows can you name that had a perfect, or shit, even near perfect finale? I can’t even count on one hand. Seinfeld, nope. The X-Files? Yeah, hell no. Lost? Don’t make me or anyone else laugh. Not even one of my other favorite series, 24, had that great of a finale. Shit, they even brought it back for another round of episodes and that finale wasn’t that fantastic either. I heard The Americans is perfect, near perfect, but I can’t say anything as I haven’t watched that show. And even though I didn’t watch The Sopranos, we all know what kind of divisive finale that had. I really only thought the series finale of Friends was near perfect, but for the life of me I can’t really name another. The point I’m trying to get across is, if you have a perfect finale like Breaking Bad did, why would you gamble to possibly fuck it all up?
But what you don’t realize is that Breaking Bad already made that gamble four years ago (BB has been off the air for six). They gambled making a prequel show that focused on Saul Goodman, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman’s criminal lawyer. But guess what? Better Call Saul is at times almost as perfect as Breaking Bad was. The final verdict has yet to be written on that show, because it’s last episode has yet to air. That prequel show at the time was a huge risk, because Breaking Bad was still fresh from being considered one of the greatest television shows and finales ever made, and many were wondering if Vince Gilligan and co. were just making this prequel series to try and keep the money train a movin’. But looking at it now, it seems like it wasn’t the money train they wanted to keep chuggin along, but the creative thinking train. So in essence, this movie really is ANOTHER huge gamble. They went to Vegas, won against the house, bet it all on black, won again, and with this movie, it’s like they are going back again and betting it all on white now, so to speak, pun intended. When it was confirmed that Vince Gilligan and co. filmed a Breaking Bad Movie in secret, and that it was going to air on Netflix and some theaters, later aired on AMC, I was still a bit skeptical (I mean, who wouldn’t be right), but since Better Call Saul didn’t lose a beat, I couldn’t help but be cautiously optimistic. The trailers and tv spots made me even more optimistic. So ladies and gentlemen, did they beat the house a third time? EL CAMINO: A BREAKING BAD MOVIE is not only Netflix’s easily best film released to date, it is one of the best films of 2019 in general. It does not ruin any of what Breaking Bad brought to television, nor Better Call Saul. It is a perfectly crafted epilogue for Jesse Pinkman. Bravo, Vince Gilligan. Bravo.
Sorry for the two paragraph introduction, but as I have promised not to reveal anything spoiler-rific, and make this seem like an actual thought out review and not just me rambling incoherent bullshit for 5 to 6 paragraphs, I thought it was necessary. First thing I can plainly tell you without giving anything away is if you haven’t watched ALL of Breaking Bad (you could take or leave Better Call Saul with this, however, I still highly recommend watching it at one point), then DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE. While Netflix gives the briefest of brief recaps (you have the option to hit skip recap), the movie just goes right into it, assuming you are already a fan and know everything there is to know about the beloved show, and for the rest of you, it gives you a giant middle finger. If you’ve watched any of the brief trailers or tv spots that don’t give anything away really at all, you probably can tell by context clues is that the movie starts off right after Jesse drives off into the night, right after Walter White ‘saved’ him from the White Supremacist gang that had him tied up for some time, making Jesse cook that sweet baby blue meth for them to sell.
The movie answers the question: what happened after Jesse just drove off into the night, screaming to the hilltops how happy he was to finally be free? Did he get caught? Where did he go if he didn’t? Because it seemed like the police arrived pretty damn fast to the White Supremacists complex, making viewers wonder if Jesse really had enough time to get away. How it answers that question is just wonderfully and surprisingly, tense, twisty, and felt real to the Breaking Bad world we already know and love. You know how Harry Potter and the Cursed Child didn’t really ruin anything the 7 books and 8 movies established for it in that universe? Basically like a fun little epilogue that didn’t say “fuck you.” El Camino is the Cursed Child of the Breaking Bad story. A better Toy Story 4 if you will. This movie is not unnecessary, not in the slightest. It is one of the first thing’s on Netflix that I have watched all the way through, no pausing, no bathroom breaks, no rewinds, no looking at my phone and/or laptop. It captivated me every single second of its nice and tight two hour run time. And it actually looks and feels like a movie, and not a television movie, thank the fucking universe.
I am not going to reveal if the movie has any great cameos and/or if those cameos feel unnecessarily unnecessary. Just know that NONE of this movie felt forced. There are great set ups and there are great pay offs. That’s all I can really say. I can tell you that it is sometimes tense as fuck. And I can also tell you that it only took me about a minute to get adjusted to what I was watching and relax, knowing that I was in good hands, feeling like I was apart of the Breaking Bad universe once again. Vince Gilligan had a finely crafted and tuned tale that he wanted to bring to the world. Again, none of them are doing this for a quick cash grab. I think if Aaron Paul read the script, and he thought it was going to fuck everything up, that he wouldn’t have agreed to be a part of it. But he must’ve read it, liked what he read, and combined with envisioning what Gilligan was going to do with it cinematic wise, knew no doubt that the journey didn’t need to be stopped before it started. With performances, EVERYONE does a great job, but to not spoil anything, I’ll just talk about Paul’s performance. Again, Aaron Paul brings a humanity to Jesse Pinkman that I don’t think any actor could’ve done as well if given the chance. Vince Gilligan knew he had something special when casting him originally in Breaking Bad, and then deciding not to kill his character at the end of season one to see where Paul took him. One of the wisest decision’s Gilligan ever made. Paul continues to deliver not just for fans of the show, but for Gilligan as well, for this excellent, excellent, excellent epilogue.
Do I have any complaints with the movie? A little thing here or there, mainly to do with the physical appearance of a character, but with six years after Breaking Bad ended, what are you gonna do, ya know? Any complaint I have with this film is very minor. The real question you might ask me is: do I think this movie is unnecessary? Yes and no. Yes because Breaking Bad ended so perfectly. Now no because of how much I liked dipping my toe back into this world, even though we do each year anyway because Better Call Saul is still going on. I think any die hard Breaking Bad fan will absolutely love this film, while a minor portion of them might have some minor issues. Nobody is going to outright hate this film though, because even if you aren’t a fan of the show, and watch it without context, it is still a well made pot boiler. What I love most about the movie is that you don’t know quite where it is going to go. I tried to guess several times where the movie would go to next, but then literally 3 seconds after my guess the writing subverted my expectations and I kept being getting surprised. After mid way through the movie (arguably the best parts in the film) I just learned to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Well, that’s all I can really say other than that if you are a huge fan and are caught up with Breaking Bad (and also love Better Call Saul), you are in for a huge treat. Honestly I can’t really see any fan of Breaking Bad not loving this movie. It’s a perfect slow burn, not a pointless shitty surface level one that Joker brought to naive idiots last week in theaters. This film earns every payoff that it ingeniously sets up. You know how both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul take their time with episodes and well…time in general. How it lingers on moments and locations, even it it might take up close to half the episodes run time. Same thing here. The movie beautifully takes its time, not one second too rushed or wasted. It makes you feel at home again, at home again, eating one of your favorite dishes your mom or dad used to make you as a child. And for that, all I have left to say, is “Yeah, bitch!”