Blu-ray/DVD review: “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” (2020)

“El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” (2020)

Drama/Thriller

122 Minutes

Written & directed by: Vince Gilligan

Featuring: Aaron Paul, Jesse Plemons, Krysten Ritter, Charles Baker, Matt Jones, Robert Forster, Jonathan Banks and Bryan Cranston

Walter White: “You’re really lucky, you know that? You didn’t have to wait your whole life to do something special.”

Released recently on DVD and Blu-ray is the followup of sorts to the hit series “Breaking Bad” (2008-2013) in the form of “El Camino” (2020) which features at its heart the character of  Jesse Pinkman who survived the end of the series, this new movie gives a kind of closure that feels less like a coherent narrative, more like a bumper two episodes of the series put together. Inherently there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, this is after all written and directed by Vince Gilligan, who has proven himself time and again fully capable of creating must see television, this new movie is no different and even if it just let audiences revisit some of their most beloved characters it would be enough, but “El Camino” is far better than that, as you might expect.

“El Camino” is almost exactly the movie you might expect to wrap up the series, although it does feel like there is much more to tell. At this stage writer/director Vince Gilligan knows exactly what he is doing not only with these familiar characters but also within narrative storytelling as well. He has behind some of the best genre televise of the past thirty years, he has never been more assured as he has with his baby “Breaking Bad”, he knows these people, the situations and most importantly can construct a plot with a narrative that feel so intertwined that sometimes they feel like they may fall apart at any moment but they hang onto to each other like a living entity until the final moments, leaving the audience wanting more. Here Gilligan directs his first real movie after experience helming other shows but of course because “Breaking Bad” was at times truly cinematic he has no issues creating a great looking movie with grand vistas, close ups but most important always with the story front and centre, its actually maddening he has never directed a movie earlier in his career but the small screen seems to have been his home. I wonder if this should have gone to cinemas for a limited run just to see it on the big screen with fans of the show in two.

The movie begins in flashback, with Jesse Pinkman and Mike Ehrmantraut having a discussion shortly before they leave Walter White’s meth business. Jesse asks Mike where he would go to start over. Mike replies that if he were younger, he would go to Alaska, an idea Jesse finds appealing. In the present, Jesse flees the Brotherhood compound in Todd Alquist’s El Camino. He goes to the Albuquerque home of Skinny Pete and Badger, who hide the car and give Jesse a place to sleep. The next morning, Jesse calls Old Joe to dispose of the El Camino but Joe flees after discovering its LoJack. Pete then devises a plan to make it appear that Jesse fled to Mexico after trading Pete’s Ford Thunderbird for the El Camino. Whilst the movie never hides from what occurred in the series I will not give any more detail regarding story but needless to say it movies back and forth through time with parallel narratives running next to each other which means we see Walter again, a treat for all fans. There are old characters as well as new ones which means the plot keeps one foot in the past as well as one squarely looking outwards, maybe a hint of what is to come once “Better Call Saul” (2016-present) reaches it conclusion.

No matter who features in “El Camino” and Mae no mistake this has a deep cast this is most definitely Aaron Paul’s movie which is good for him as it reminds audiences why they liked him in the first place. There can be a tendency for actors who are closely associated with a role to never truly escape it no matter what they do, one need only look at signature roles which of course Aaron Paul had with Jessie Pinkman. Since the ending of “Breaking Bad” Paul has endeavoured to play many parts, keeping extremely busy in film and television with mixed results, but with Pinkman there is no harm in playing someone you know so well, it shows, think David Duchovny as Fox Mulder, an actor who knows who is playing from top to bottom, while being very good in other roles we all want more of what we like. The rest of the cast are all great and know they are all supporting one character which they do incredibly well, of course it does not hurt to be a part of a phenomenon in any form.

If “Breaking Bad” was all about meticulous plans with effects flowing from those this new instalment is all about making your own luck, living in the moment and hoping survival will come out of that. It’s also interesting that the Jessie had to have help from the person that killed his girlfriend which informs the entire story. As I have said I don’t believe this to be the end of the story, I think there will be more at some point, after all with a spin off show and this movie, surely Gilligan has more up his sleeve.

Special Features

Audio Commentary with Vince Gilligan and Aaron Paul
Deleted and Extended Scenes
Gag Reel
Scene Studies with Vince Gilligan
Super Commentary!: An ensemble audio commentary featuring 46 members of the cast and crew
Making El Camino: A behind-the-scenes documentary featuring never-before-seen interviews with the cast and crew
Snow Globe: A Breaking Bad Short
Skinny Pete in the Box Teaser
On the Radio Teaser
Rocker Salvage Commercial
Vamonos Pest Commercial
“Enchanted” by Chloe x Halle
Visual Effects Design Galleries

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