Review: El Camino – Jesse Pinkman’s epilogue is on the edge

The long-awaited premiere of El Camino is over. The epilogue, which was adopted by Netflix after AMC, answers some unanswered questions from the epic finale of the cult series Breaking Bad – What Happened to Jess Pinkman? Where did it land Did he manage to break out of the criminal carousel and live a normal life? The answer is surprisingly simple, but getting there is more difficult than we hoped.

The filmmakers apparently saw the film as a portion of nostalgia that is aimed exclusively at the hard core of fans. El Camino does not work as an independent film and cannot function practically, precisely because it reacts to events from the latest episodes of the series. Breaking Bad is mentioned here often, not only because of the numerous flashbacks we are talking about, but also because of the typical directorial games, references to the act of the series or the slow, almost tense storytelling.

The lack of narrative dynamics in the series wasn’t a disadvantage, as the various fillings served as a kind of psychoanalysis of characters and support for a gradually built atmosphere, so it didn’t matter that the plot didn’t really shift in many episodes. The series will of course fill up as the creators have significantly more time to develop characters and stories. El Camino suffers from the same deficiency. The problem is that the cotton wool leaves at least an unnecessary impression in the movie room and takes away the time and space in which the creators can build and rewrite a new story.

El Camino thus fulfills its own ambitions without knowing what it really wants to be. On the one hand it is a subtle and truly psychological continuation of the story of Jesse Pinkman, on the other hand the very frequent retrospective scenes make El Camino a rather conservative fan film by the makers for the fans. It was interesting to see how Jesse (not) dealt with the consequences of his actions, but despite the great actor Aaron Paul, he was unable to make the film himself. In addition, the relatively large space for the character Todd, who is probably the most boring (even the least charismatic) figure on the show, blurs the impression of the film.

The truth is that it was nice to see the old faces and remember nostalgically the geniuses of the famous universe. Assuming that El Camino was seen as the show’s successor in two seasons, it would be enough for a positive rating and basically for Breaking Bad the apparent absence of Walter White was no different. But El Camino is a film and needs to be addressed. And as a film, it lacks two basic elements: first, the narrative dynamics, the lack of which was not harmful in the series, but the film has different rules. Second, a kind of “WTF effect”, either in the story itself or at the end; Jesse Pinkman deserves a more epic one (aside from the brilliant western scene).

For me as a loyal and enthusiastic fan of Breaking Bad, the reunion with well-known and popular characters (except Todd) was both interesting and long-awaited. My expectations naturally corresponded to my wish that El Camino builds on the genius of the show itself. Unfortunately, it failed and even the feeling of nostalgia was not dizzy despite frequent flashbacks and a lot of Easter eggs, which is all the more strange as I find Breaking Bad a kind of personal series frog. It is hard to crush the tear of disappointment as it is likely that El Camino is definitely the last point behind the legendary series … with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Film / El Camino: Gingerbread Father
trailer
Drama / action
USA, 2019, 122 min
Directed by Vince Gilligan
Actors include Aaron Paul, Bryan Cranston, Jesse Plemons, Jonathan Jones, Jonathan Banks and Charles Baker

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