Netflix’s ‘Breaking Bad’ Movie Is A Must See — If You’re A Diehard Fan

'El Camino' is a gift to people who loved 'Breaking Bad'.

El Camino breaking Bad review

The ending of Breaking Bad is perfect.

Spoilers ahead for Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.

In ‘Felina’, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) returns to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to free his loved ones from the curse of being associated with Heisenberg. White had a hold over everyone in his inner circle throughout Breaking Bad, and there was no greater bond, for better or worse (mostly worse), than the link between White and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul).

Felina not only represents the end of Breaking Bad but the emancipation of Pinkman. The last time we see White’s meth co-conspirator he’s fleeing in a car crying and screaming. Where was Pinkman going? It didn’t matter. Pinkman is free of White. It’s an incredible moment of absolution and the open road presents endless possibilities.

But nothing ever ends in pop culture in 2019.

Since Breaking Bad concluded the underbelly of New Mexico has expanded. We got an equally great spin-off centred on shady lawyer Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), Better Call Saul, and thanks to Netflix and Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan we know Pinkman’s fate in El Camino.

Where  Does ‘El Camino’ Pick Up?

After a quick flashback and a big cameo, El Camino starts seconds after the Breaking Bad finale, with Pinkman on the run.

That’s all you need to know because the only way to approach El Camino is with the knowledge of five seasons of Breaking Bad. A refresher beforehand is good homework because El Camino is on the same niche level as the Downton Abbey film.

If you’re a believer in the perfection of Felina, the wait for El Camino has been stressful. The ambiguity of Pinkman’s final moment is a big part of what makes the ending of Breaking Bad unforgettable. You may want to keep the memory of Pinkman’s emotional exit as your personal endpoint; we can pick endings now like they’re a ‘choose your own adventure’.

If you decide to push on (gulp) know that El Camino is a slow burn epilogue that provides closure for Pinkman, and it’s far from cheap fan service. El Camino expands on Breaking Bad’s themes of the butterfly effect of crime and the actions required to make things right.

No More Half Measures

What always set Pinkman apart from his co-workers in Breaking Bad was his age.

Pinkman rolled with middle-aged men and with one “yeah, Bitch” we were reminded of his youth. Characters like White and Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) were caught up in major life course corrections due to their chosen career paths. Regret was in high circulation. Pinkman was different because he had his whole life in front of him and a chance to get out and retire young.

Throughout El Camino, via a series of flashbacks, we see Pinkman given the advice to not repeat the mistakes of his colleagues. These scenes allow Gilligan to invite back major characters from Breaking Bad, but these moments never feel invasive, they feel like Pinkman’s memories, which help to formulate his escape plan. He has unfinished business with thugs associated with the Brotherhood gang that imprisoned him to cook meth (don’t forget to do your homework).

Gilligan’s intricate plotting is present in El Camino, as Pinkman must step back into the life of crime he’s fleeing from in order to start a new life. Yes, the plan is to cover Pinkman’s tracks but it’s more to do with clearing the names of innocent people who have been implicated in his crimes.

Pinkman tells Ehrmantraut all he wants to do is “make things right.” The standover man replies, “Sorry kid, that’s the one thing you can never do.”

Gilligan always made his characters accountable for their actions, so a simple disappearing act will do more harm to those left behind. El Camino deals in unfinished business to reinforce that in the world of Breaking Bad there’s no such thing as an easy getaway. Accountability in the grey areas of crime allows Pinkman to not set out purely for revenge; Gilligan avoids making the film a pulpy affair.

There’s a western vibe throughout El Camino, which Gilligan indulges several times; Pinkman is a lone gunman, characters refer to towns as frontiers and there’s a sensational quick draw scene. The desert scenery of New Mexico, shot by Marshall Adams (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul), makes Albuquerque feel like an outpost of the old west.

A weary, traumatised Pinkman steps out on his own and it’s engrossing to see Paul give a more mature, world-weary performance. Ed Galbraith (Robert Foster) returns as the vacuum repairman with expert relocation skills who understands the blowback of a vanishing act. Foster is stoic as Pinkman’s new caretaker in his final screen performance before passing away.

Yeah Bitch Or Nah Bitch?

I never needed closure for Pinkman when Breaking Bad ended but El Camino is a great companion piece if you’re craving answers.

Paul may never be able to top a character like Pinkman on his resume and this homecoming performance is the proof. Like Better Call Saul, El Camino expands Breaking Bad’s story without tarnishing the legacy of the series.

Hell yeah.

El Camino is currently streaming on Netflix.

Cameron Williams is a writer and film critic based in Melbourne who occasionally blabs about movies on ABC radio. He has a slight Twitter addiction: @MrCamW.