El Camino offers a tremendously entertaining farewell to the Breaking Bad series. Punctuated by outstanding performances of Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman) and Jesse Plemons (Todd), the film is sure to satisfy fans of the series—who will likely be the only ones to watch it, or at least “get” it.
The movie picks up right where the series left off, with Jesse escaping in Todd’s El Camino from the gangland shootout that took out Walter White. It’s Jesse’s story, and it answers the question: What happened to Jesse at the end of Breaking Bad?
Jesse is a marvelous character creation—the meth dealer with a moral center—and you can’t help but root for him throughout the film, just as we did during the series. The action takes place over a couple of days, and is spliced with flashbacks to his time enslaved as a meth cook by Uncle Jack, Todd, and the gang.
Jesse connects with his old buddies Skinny Pete and Badger as he strives to avoid capture and achieve freedom. Of course, his journey is fraught with steps forward and steps back. In fact, the technique—a standard one was almost too rote in terms of storytelling: it’s looking good for Jesse, it’s looking bad for Jesse . . . back and forth, back and forth.
Still, not once did my attention stray. The pace, the direction, the cinemaphotography were all a homage to Breaking Bad. I found the strongest scene of the movie to be a flashback (it shouldn’t be that way) to the enslaved days of Jesse, when Todd offers Jesse pizza. See it and you will know.
A number of critics mentioned that the film wasn’t essential, or even necessary. I can understand why they might have said this: At the end of Breaking Bad, we know what happens to Jesse—he gets away. This movie simply reinforces that conclusion.