‘El Camino’ Delivers Satisfying Closure

Photo courtesy of IMDb

Photo courtesy of IMDb.

Disclaimer: this review may contain mild spoilers for “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” and other works in the “Breaking Bad” franchise.

If I could describe “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” in two words, it would be traditional closure. I walked into the film knowing exactly what I wanted and left satisfied that I had received just that.  

Released in 2019, the film acts as an epilogue to the “Breaking Bad” franchise, almost functioning as a solo movie for Jesse Pinkman. Aaron Paul returns as Jesse, once again delivering a stunningly realistic and heart-wrenching performance of a broken man. 

One of my favorite aspects of the last season of “Breaking Bad” was how accurately Jesse’s character portrays PTSD and panic attacks. He has the acting ability to make the viewer feel the same hopeless grief he experiences, a shocking difference from his original characterization of a carefree drug dealer. 

I partially believe that’s why Jesse’s experience with PTSD is so heartbreaking–the fall from grace is so much more impactful, as the viewer has grown accustomed to his nonchalant and upbeat attitude. Jesse has always been one of my favorite characters in “Breaking Bad,” so I might be biased, but I felt the film gave his character justice. 

I have two minor complaints about the film. I personally felt the ending felt slightly rushed, and it concluded with the cliche “driving away to something unknown” trope. I don’t mind the ending too much; I just feel there are better ways it could have concluded. 

My other complaint doesn’t often come when I review films, but I felt it was too short. At 2 hours and 2 minutes of runtime, it felt like some things could have been elaborated on or extended. With the current runtime, I did not feel bored once. 

Going back to my previous point, I feel like the ending was missing a little more something, and this would have been a great time to add just a bit more closure to Jesse’s story. When the end credits rolled, I honestly thought the movie had skipped, and I tried to rewind it before I realized it was the actual ending. 

There was not a great deal of plot covered throughout the film; it almost just felt like an escape plan from start to finish, something I actually enjoyed about the film. The film knew its purpose and delivered precisely what the viewers wanted: closure for Jesse. 

The thing about “El Camino” is that it’s almost like an elongated episode. It doesn’t have the same feeling as a film, but it makes it work.

The soundtrack isn’t overpowering but rather complements the storyline, adding tension when needed. The background noise, whether the radio or music, always blends with the movement on the screen rather than taking away from the action. 

The soundtrack and cinematography are quite similar to “Breaking Bad,” so chances are, if you enjoyed that, you would appreciate the additional context that “El Camino” provides. 

Vince Gilligan once again delivers a similar directing style to “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” with trademark transition time-lapses of Albuquerque and New Mexico scenery and sunsets. 

However, I think it’s essential to watch the entirety of “Breaking Bad” before watching the finale. Without the context and deep relationships I had previously developed with the characters, the film would have probably seemed trivial and uninteresting. 

This film was the closure that “Breaking Bad” fans didn’t know they needed but definitely deserved. It’s almost like a parting gift to the franchise, as I cannot imagine another spinoff happening anytime soon (no matter how much I want one about Mike.)

The film is full of cameos and pings of nostalgia for previous characters, and I found myself satisfied with how much information was disclosed to the viewer. Personally, I was not a fan of the ambiguous ending of “Breaking Bad,” so finding out Walter White’s final fate through a casual radio playing in the background was one of my favorite aspects of the film. 

The tension in the film is beautifully crafted, leaving the viewer teetering on the edge of their seat, anxiously awaiting Jesse’s fate. There were moments when I genuinely was nervous Jesse would die and physically reacted to the screen. 

Jesse departs the film a scarred man, a complete contrast from the initial character the audience is used to seeing, but he leaves with the viewer hope for the start of a new life. 

Rate: 8.5/10