El Camino may just be the most exciting Netflix original of the year. The legendary TV series Breaking Bad ended 6 years ago and then out of nowhere, Vince Gilligan announces that a new sequel film was in the works. After piecing together several cryptic clues, we discovered that the film would track Jesse Pinkman following his escape. Now, the film has finally landed on the streaming platform… but did it live up to the hype?
In some ways, yes, El Camino is another Breaking Bad masterpiece and gives us all the closure we didn’t know we needed. Jesse is one of the few characters who survived the series and yet at the end of season five, we have no idea which direction his story will take. Yes, he has escaped but his chances of finding a life outside bars let alone peace of mind are looking slim. The film thus picks up where Breaking Bad left off and we follow an extremely paranoid Jesse as he attempts to escape police custody and make his way to Alaska.
As expected, Gilligan’s direction did not disappoint. The cinematography in Better Call Saul is superb and yet in El Camino, Gilligan truly outdoes himself. Each scene is meticulously crafted and if you remove the storytelling, the film remains outstanding as a piece of cinematography.
As a story, however, El Camino does not quite live up to Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad. Jesse’s likability as a character is what ultimately keeps us hooked but many of the scenes feel contrived. Given that most of the best characters died in the fifth season, their return is in the form of flashbacks. Todd’s return is particularly poorly received, given what an unpleasant character he was already. Gilligan seemed to bring him back, however, to somehow make him even worse.
There were some great moments across the film and Gilligan successfully kept us on the edge of our seats. Unfortunately, towards the end, there were scenes that felt rushed. That said, it would be unrealistic for Gilligan to pack everything into a two-hour feature.
Ultimately, the creation of El Camino was a risky move given the level of fandom that surrounds the franchise. Still, the addition of the sequel to the Breaking Bad canon is a welcome one and even though it wasn’t perfect, it gave us the closure we needed.