Breaking Bad: El Camino Movie (PROS & CONS)

***Warning – this post contains a few spoilers***

Good afternoon readers,

Recently watched El Camino, the new Breaking Bad movie (here). 

NOT too inspired.

Why?

The movie felt like two or three episodes of Breaking Bad where they wrapped up loose ends from the series.

  • Not strong enough to be a movie.
  • The ending “could” pave the way for a new series or another movie later – but El Camino was really just closure for fans.
  • If you want to read a review of the movie – I thought this was a good one here
  • El Camino is still worth watching – but you might not get a full movie experience 

ALTERNATIVE TITLES FOR EL CAMINO

Vince Gilligan made El Camino: A Breaking Bad MOVIE as a series-sequel-movie (available on Netflix). After watching the movie, the first thing I thought of was that it needed a different title. “El Camino” connected to many parts of the movie –  like the car, the western showdown-gun fight between Jesse and the Welder dude – but as the movie went on – alternative titles came to mind:

  • “Closure for Breaking Bad Fans” because as noted, that is what the movie was about. The content was all about piggybacking on past episodes, connecting to former Easter Eggs (and even mentioning “Easter Eggs” as the color inspiration for Todd’s apartment). Yawn.

  • This movie could have been called: “Jesse Finds His Way”

  • Or… “Jesse Pinkman and the Welder Guy”

Loved this scene where Jesse piles on the food from the buffet – esp. extra pineapples. Classic Jesse.

PROS & CONS

PROS

  • Pro 1: Flashbacks are done well. The flashbacks are used as a way to bring us back into the world of Breaking Bad and not one time was there confusion about past vs. present. They have a lot of  flashbacks – and each time it was smooth and coherent.

  • Pro 2: This show brings closure to the series with well done integrations. For example, outfits and hairstyles were in line. An example came from one of the flashback scenes that connected to my husband’s favorite episode: 4 Days Out (from Season 2 here). Hubs noted that the outfits and whole vibe synced. 

  • Pro 3: Fun humor and light jokes, but not all were good. For example, it was half funny the way Joe mimicked Jesse’s famous “magnets” phrase:

  • Pro 4: Time-lapse snippets had classic Breaking Bad excellence. Showing the time pass with all that digital movement was beautiful. Also, there was a great aerial view time-lapse of Jesse searching for Todd’s money.

  • Pro 5: The acting was good – although there were times that Jesse’s scenes fell short (like the money scene with the vacuum guy – not convincing).

  • Pro 6: Levi’s jeans were identified in numerous scenes. This is only mentioned because last month, Priorhouse posted about jeans (here) – and Levi’s came up a lot – and so when I saw the jeans – on Jesse, the welder man, and other characters – it reminded me of a few bloggers (I really enjoyed that jeans post).

  • Pro 7: Not a lot of violence

  • Pro 8: The character of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) came in for a quick scene when the movie had about 20 minutes left.  Glad WW made it into the movie –  would have liked more….

  • Pro 9: Culture-rich lines that depicted this niche of society. For example, when Jesse asked Pete why he was helping him, Pete walked away and under his breath shared some depth of feeling when he said: “Dude, you‘re my hero and shit” – just so good (even though I do not think Jesse would be asking why Pete was helping him – see the “not plausible” cons below).

CONS

  • Con 1: Too much Jesse! Jesse Pinkman, (Aaron Paul) is the only focus of this movie. One of the strengths of the Breaking Bad series was that it had multiple characters with shared the screen time. We were able to enjoy and get to know many characters and it was not too much of anybody. This “properly shared character screen time” was also a strength in Game of Thrones. We were sometimes immersed with characters guarding the wall, we were then at a meeting in the castle, or then traveling through the fields with characters. But in El Camino – it was all about Jesse. That reminds me of my least favorite thing about the show “Home Coming” – it is way too much Julia Roberts. Ugh. Also, in Better Call Saul (here), which was the spin off show of Breaking Bad – they made the mistake of having way too much Bob Odenkirk (and poor writing). Shows or movies that put TOO MUCH emphasis on one character provide a flat experience – and put too much strain on that character.

  • Con 2: El Camino did not have the strength of a movie – felt like a few episodes from the series. To me, a good movie has a plot, climax, and every single scene adds to a developing story – and there should be less “filler” scenes. In a two-hour movie – every single scene contributes to the overall plot. Not the case here. For example, when Neil, the welder man and his friends have some prostitutes come by – at first we thought the girls were maybe being trafficked and Jesse would help free them. Nah, they were just over-dressed up hookers – with petty complaints as they left – and seemed to add NOTHING to the plot. There were many examples of unnecessary scenes – scenes that might work for a slower-moving series, but waste time in a movie.

  • Con 3: El Camino might only be enjoyed by viewers who already know (and liked) the series. Yet from some of the reviews going around, some fans argue the movie was “not needed.” There were no loose ends to wrap up…

  • Con 4: Some scenes in El Camino were NOT plausible.

    • 4.1 The vacuum cleaner sales man (who sadly died of cancer yesterday, which was the day of the movie release) would not so quickly quip about a mere $1,800 dollars when he was staring at more than 200,000! Not believable. Especially when half of that money was for a canceled pick up. This was also the scene where Jesse’s acting was below average. Just something about it felt off. 

    • 4.2 Another “not plausible” scene was when Jesse asked Skinny Pete “why” he was helping him. This was “off” because it was a time of great stress – and not the time to meander and ponder like that. The police were on the way! We cannot stop the action whenever we want.  Also, WHY would Jesse ask one of his best friends why he would be helping him? Over the entire series they were tight friends – and this is what friends do – help in times of crisis. This is especially what friends do with a shared drug-use past. Jesse might ask why a former enemy would be helping him – but not his good buddy. Come on now….

    • 4.3 Also “not plausible” when Jesse slapped Walter White – jokingly- in the dining room booth. The hearty slap on the back seemed out of place for the Jesse character and for the way these two interacted during their changing relationship in the series. Walt and Jesse never  had the “slap on the back” kind of rapport. No way.  I know it has been six years since the Breaking Bad finale aired, but we still remember the way they interacted. Even when Walt was all chummy – like the time he explained the battery making — with that copper  – and Jesse said, “wires….” (so fun) – well they were not touchy and slap on the back kinda colleagues.

    • 4.4 The scene with Todd singing, while driving to bury the housekeeper, was fun – and slightly entertaining – like when his hand went out the window to roll with the air; however – it went on way too long and did not contribute to any developing plot.

    • 4.5 The fake FBI guys, the one that was the welder guy, likely would NOT have let Jesse go – esp. with the money (this was my husband’s biggest con). 

    • 4.6 The western showdown-gun fight between Jesse and the welder man seemed forced. That scene came off as if the movie creators were trying too hard to give us an artsy western-inspired scene. The way they flashed the eyes of the men and set up for the “showdown draw of the guns” – felt too intentional and seemed forced (although it did connect more to the title and some folks might like the gun talk and the surprise from Jesse). However – this was another time we had men that were in the heat of the moment (and one man is jacked up on coke and drinks and just spent time with a hooker), it was three in the morning, and he suddenly acts sober and suggests a quick draw? Nah….

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Well thanks for reading.

Have you seen the movie El Camino?

The Breaking Bad series?

Any thoughts on the pros and cons here?

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This post is dedicated to my blog/author friend Mahesh Nair – who contacted me early yesterday morning to make sure I knew about the movie.

Thanks, M. 🙂

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17 thoughts on “Breaking Bad: El Camino Movie (PROS & CONS)

  1. Yvette, an excellent detailed review of the pros and cons of this film! You’re obviously an expert on Breaking Bad! On hearing about the film I first wanted to hear it but on mentioning it to my son he’d already seen it. For many of the reasos you listed he couldn’t recommend it. It would have worked as separate episodes … possibly. The whole film didn’t gel overall! Not one for me … don’t want to ruin for me the powerful original series which ended perfectly!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi author Annika! Not really an expert, but I did love the show (along with Mahesh Nair and you – and other fans like your son….)
      But before you pass altogether – you might find that it is worth your time. There are so many little connections to the past episodes and it still has the excellent editing and acting – providing a flavored sampling of “breaking Bad – essence” – which would be worth your time (I think)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I might give it a go with such an eloquent comment! 😀 I’ll let you know. It was a show I would never have normally have watched but my in-laws raved on about the prgramme,

        Liked by 1 person

  2. We watched the movie yesterday evening. It made me kind of glad that I did not watch the ending of the final season of Breaking Bad (would have been sad.) I agree. It felt like a couple of episodes joined together and without knowing some of the context I felt a little lost. It was definitely a movie highlighting Jesse Pinkman. I really enjoyed your review 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi – thanks for chiming in. And the final season was not too sad- although I can see why some of the snippets in the current El Camino movie made it come across that way (They spent too much time having Jesse try the wire and mentioned his captivity a bit much – but it was different in the season) –
    and thanks for noting the Jesse highlights –
    I get where they were going with the movie – but they missed out on “giving us an actual movie”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have not watched neither one of the movie. It looks like there are a lot more pros than cons. I am with you that I don’t like movies that do have a lot of “not plausible”. I meant given certain concepts or constraints of reality within the movie and they do not stay within those. This does not mean things must be realistic.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree with you about within the constraints of the movie and all that – and I guess I did list more pros here – but I also did not send too much time on this post – I likely could have made a better review but there is only so much time this weekend I can spend on it – so that was the post that unfolded – and it was “enough” – if that makes sense.
      Thanks for chiming in YC
      🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Breaking Bad is my favorite show of all time. I was disappointed in El Camino, didn’t wrap-up any lose ends for me..I felt it was making way for a new series to come. I agree with all your points except one. I think Jessie had to be the main focus. He was 1 of 2 main characters and he survived so I see why the more was all Jessie…that didn’t bother me. I agree it didn’t seem like a movie at all..just an extension of a show…with more to come in the future. Thanks for the review I really enjoyed reading it.

    Liked by 3 people

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