Monday, October 21, 2019

Movie Monday: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

Saturday night, after a nice dinner out with friends, my husband and I settled onto the couch and recliner with our hot cups of herbal tea (me) and decaf coffee (him) and enjoyed a new movie on Netflix called El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. We were big fans of the Breaking Bad TV show (though very late to discover it, just last year!), and we enjoyed this sequel that shows what happened to Jesse after the end of the TV finale.

If you haven't yet watched the Breaking Bad series or seen the finale (and you want to), then go finish that before reading this review. It's impossible to describe the movie without spoiling the show's ending a bit. On the other hand, if you are not interested in watching Breaking Bad, I've heard some reviewers say that this movie still works as a stand-alone.

This movie is an immediate sequel to the TV show, beginning just seconds after the finale of the TV show ended. Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul, escaped an absolute bloodbath of criminals at the end of the finale. As the sole survivor, Jesse flees the scene of the massacre in an old El Camino that was owned by one of his captors. A group of Neo-Nazis kept Jesse prisoner in an underground cage, letting him out only to cook that special blue meth that he and Walter were famous for, keeping him chained up even as he worked in the makeshift lab. As the movie opens, Jesse is finally free, but the police are after him, knowing he was the sole survivor. Of course, Jesse begins by heading to the home of his two best friends, Badger (played by Matt Jones) and Skinny Pete (played by Charles Baker). Jesse looks...well, like he's been kept chained up in a cage for many months, and his friends let him in and help him out. Once Jesse is cleaned up and rested, he trades cars with Badger and heads out, to keep his friends from getting in trouble. Jesse wants to disappear, like he's previously planned before everything went wrong, but first, he needs money. He's searching specifically for money hidden by one of the criminals, Todd, played by Jesse Plemons. Todd is the coldest, scariest psychopath you will ever come across! (Well, hopefully, you and I won't ever come across a psychopath, but you know what I mean.) Flashbacks fill in details of some of what happened between Jesse and Todd, painting an even creepier picture of the violent criminal. Much of the movie is about Jesse trying to get enough money and set up his escape, with flashbacks to previous events new to the viewer.

We thoroughly enjoyed this movie, especially getting to see what happened to Jesse after Breaking Bad ended. It's a satisfying ending to his story. I've heard others say that you don't need to have watched Breaking Bad at all to enjoy the movie, but I think you would miss a lot of references without that background. Aaron Paul is wonderful in his role as Jesse, not only bringing all the talent he brought to the TV show but also showing how deeply damaged Jesse is from his experiences, while still holding onto his humanity. Jesse Plemons, on the other hand, shows not an ounce of humanity in his role as the freakishly cold Todd, an odd combination of ordinary guy and stone-cold killer. He is completely void of emotions, and the scenes when he takes Jesse on a "field trip" from his prison to help him with something are powerful. Just wait until you see Todd's apartment! Beaver and Skinny Pete provide a sense of humor, as always, and show the depth of their friendship with Jesse. As with Breaking Bad, there is plenty of action in the movie but also plenty of thoughtfulness. There is even a touching flashback of Walter and Jesse, before Walter got so crazy. It's a perfect wrap-up of Jesse's story, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. A must-see for any Breaking Bad fans and probably entertaining for non-fans, too.

El Camino is a Netflix original movie, so it is available on Netflix, as are all seasons of the Breaking Bad TV show. Breaking Bad is also available for streaming on Amazon, starting at $2.99 an episode or $9.99 a season. It is also available on DVD, including the complete 6-season series.

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