Review: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Taylor-William Hill is immensely satisfied with El Camino, the long-awaited conclusion to the Breaking Bad story.
The final episode of Breaking Bad, Felina, aired on 23rd September 2013. If you’re also like me and born in the year of 1998, you’re probably twenty-one and would have been fifteen when the show ended and was starting or finishing your GCSEs. Although a minority of fans argue that the show’s ending was ambiguous and inconclusive, it tends to be pretty consensual that the show’s end was satisfyingly conclusive for all involved. The rumour circling around in February that a ‘Breaking Bad film’ was in the works operating under the alias Greenbrier was, depending on your opinion of Breaking Bad‘s ending, either a scary prospect or a wholly welcome one. Although I feel Better Call Saul has managed to fill the void since Felina (even at times paralleling the emotional heights and style of Breaking Bad), it’s pretty incredible to believe that Vince Gilligan impromptu decided to continue the story six years after its initial run. Whether or not you think a continuation of the story is needed – or even necessary – is something that will continue to divide opinion. Ultimately, this film exists, and I can resoundingly say that the world is a better place for its existence.
Breaking Bad is Gilligan’s baby; irrespective of how you felt about the film being in the works, having Gilligan at the helm of the project with a crew that clearly have a lot of care for it, there was little chance of hampering the legacy of the show that spawned it. I’m so pleased to say that El Camino can exist as its own entity without dampening the emotional stakes of Breaking Bad, if anything, it adds more perspective to the show which too easily tempts a re-watch of the whole thing. Without giving much away, I believe my desire to now re-watch the entire series is a testament to the film’s structuring and the way it humanises its characters (to an extent) in ways that weren’t displayed in the show but was always there subtextually.
It’s serious in tone but doesn’t take itself too seriously; it has Gilligan’s trademark dark humour and an enjoyable amount of twists that never seem forced or out of place.
The film will always be a product of its former self, and despite this, it still holds firm as – frankly – a great movie. Gilligan and leading man Aaron Paul have both suggested that you don’t have to watch the show to enjoy the film; to an extent, they’re correct. The film progresses at a seamless pace even, when the scenes are particularly long, they don’t seem to drag on. For a two-hour run time, this is impressive, it’s indubitably a very fast two-hours. It’s serious in tone but doesn’t take itself too seriously; it has Gilligan’s trademark dark humour and an enjoyable amount of twists that never seem forced or out of place. What’s more impressive is that this is Gilligan’s directorial debut for a feature-length cinematic piece, although you certainly wouldn’t have thought so. The cinematography that uses filters with darker greens, reds and blues really works to good effect here and makes the film aesthetically feel cinematic as opposed to a two-hour-long TV special. There’s also an instance in which the crew opts to revert back to a film camera for narrative purposes (which, if you saw the latest season of Better Call Saul, isn’t too much a surprise).
Although if you’ve never seen Breaking Bad, I would now encourage you to do so. If you don’t want to sit through the five seasons, you can still sit and watch this film and have an excellent time; it’ll just be a shame. A shame because you’ll never get the emotional payoff this film delivers after sixty-two episodes from a masterpiece of a show. After six years of ‘waiting’, I’m so satisfied with the conclusion to the conclusion and I’m sure many other Breaking Bad fans are also.
Was it necessary? Perhaps not. Does it merit its existence? You’re goddamn right it does.