'El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie' review: Vince Gilligan's sequel stands apart with a dash of nostalgia and killer suspense

'El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie' review: Vince Gilligan's sequel stands apart with a dash of nostalgia and killer suspense

This article contains spoilers.

Vince Gilligan announcing he would spearhead the Breaking Bad's Netflix movie-sequel 'El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie' made the entire fandom erupt in joy and explicit glee like no other.

Six years after the series finale culminated with the ever-so-teasing cliffhanger, we were finally getting all the answers. The aftermath of Walter White taking out Jesse Pinkman's neo-nazi captors before freeing him to ride off into the sunset was finally being shed with the long-overdue spotlight.

With bated breath, fans have awaited the sequel that just premiered on the streaming platform; the ominous orange undertones of Breaking Bad's Alberqueque have transcended on to the undulating desert landscapes as an exposition for all that is left open-ended and undecided in 'El Camino'.

Yet set in the background of the contrast, Pinkman's journey meandering in a post-Walt world resonates with the same sharp thrill and teasing adrenaline rush from the series, as one simultaneously empathizes with the 'teenage retiree', while awaiting his impending downfall.


The movie kicks off with a serene landscape as Jesse and Mike discuss what lies ahead for the young man. Without focusing a lot on establishing a timeline, the narrative skips back and forth between Jesse's time in captivity under the demonic Uncle Jack, and back into the present as he dons the fugitive cap effortlessly.

In their conversation, Jonathan Banks brings the same sublime wisdom and energy that his character was laden with, in days from the past; Aaron Paul reprising Jesse in these scenes is slightly more composed and somber than we remember having seen him ever.

Perhaps it is the time in captivity or the time he spent fleeing, but this meeting with Mike serves as a prime foundation for the rest of the tale before we get to dive back into the past and find out what led Jesse to that point in his life. He wishes to start afresh, but Mike solemnly reminds him that putting things right is the one thing he can't do.

The narrative shifts again and we see Jesse driving like a madman as he soars from being a caged animal to find hostage, and turn into a feral one instead. He seeks refuge at his pal Skinny Pete's (Charles Baker) and Badger (Matt L. Jones) is also present at the time he arrives.


The care and affection the two show Jesse is heartwarming, especially in the light of him hogging down food like a starving animal in the wild, and going hysterical in the paranoia of the police busting in any time.

Paul's expertise as Jesse is once again established and throughout the film, his portrayal serves as a haunting reminder of how criminally underrated the actor is when not looked in this character's light.

The lively banter between Pete and Badger makes for a striking contrast in the backdrop of a traumatized Jesse and Pete reassuring him saying, "You're my hero" would be the cue to pull the box of tissues close. 


As Jesse's trauma weans off and he acquires whatever moiety of normalcy he can in the wake of Walter's death and his escape, tension builds up with pretty much everyone hounding for the drug money — a possession he must get to before anybody else does.


Luckily, he has Pete and Badger to wipe off his tracks while he goes to take care of business, and the narrative shifts focus to enlighten us about the Stockholm Syndrome-esque bond Jesse had developed with Jak's nephew Todd.

Played by Jesse Plemons, Todd's appearance and behavior resemble that of a disconcertingly kind man who exudes an aura of sinister ulterior motives. Surprisingly, his compassion for the caged, tortured Jesse also manages to leave us really haunted about the dark secrets a genuinely decent appearing guy can hide.

But it is definitely Jesse's transformation from a man once trapped to the street smart guy with all the balls is what's to watch out for.

Back in the present, however, cameos galore more than newer additions. Ed Galbraith, the vacuum cleaner seller who moonlights as a man who disappears people offers his two cents on Jesse's current predicament, and even though he necessarily doesn't go out of his way to be helpful, it's good to see old faces back.


In fact, that is probably the biggest selling point of the sequel; the tasteful juxtaposition of characters old and new leads to a unique concoction for a riveting tale where viewers can find themselves swimming in both nostalgia, and suspense, in equal parts.

Add to that Jesse's conscience which still has someone managed to survive after the boy has danced like a puppet to the whims of Walt, Todd, and the many who have wrong him in the past, and suddenly, the joyride that is 'El Camino' gets too personal.

The hopelessness in Jesse's survival becomes the crutch we can rely on as we dig deeper into the world of the sequel, without ever feeling like a lapse in continuation following the ending of the series, and for that, we have Gilligan to thank.

'El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie' premiered on Friday, October 11, only on Netflix.


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