I’m not sure who asked for this movie, and I’m not sure why I watched it.
"El Camino" is the latest spinoff in the "Breaking Bad" series, following the commercial and critical success of "Better Call Saul." The 2-hour movie acts as an epilogue to the beloved show.
The movie picks up immediately after the final episode of "Breaking Bad" as Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) speeds away from his cage in Todd’s (Jesse Plemons) Chevy El Camino. After reconnecting with fan-favorites Badger (Matt Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker), Pinkman seeks to leave Albuquerque behind.
Director of Photography Marshall Adams brings back the distinctive cinematography of "Breaking Bad" in "El Camino." The creative, unconventional camera angles combined with the haunting use of ambient sounds as musical scores made me reminisce on the mid-2010s and my first encounters with "Breaking Bad."
If only nostalgia were enough to salvage the film.
"El Camino" reminded me of an anime spinoff movie. It had all my favorite characters doing the things I know them for. It provided me with additional context about those characters and their fictitious universe, and I always come away thinking "cool, now I know how Trunks got that sword or whatever."
But, like most anime spinoffs, "El Camino" was completely pointless.
It told me a story I had only a minimal desire to learn about even when the show concluded. Pinkman’s story was told in the most basic, predictable way it possibly could have, relying primarily on nostalgia for the old "Breaking Bad" cast instead of decent storytelling.
The pandering reviewer and "Breaking Bad" superfans will most likely disagree. They will point to the movie’s twist, its modern western themes (overtly stated by Pinkman in the movie’s climax), the cameos of beloved characters and its admittedly gorgeous cinematography. Many viewers are just looking for just that.
For me, "El Camino" provided nothing new and struggled to keep me interested. This re-raises the questions: Who is this movie for, and why should anyone feel compelled to watch it?
"Breaking Bad" was a cultural phenomenon for Albuquerque. It permeated the local zeitgeist unlike any other media in the Land of Enchantment which, on the surface, is odd considering that the universe it established in Albuquerque is not exactly positive.
In Breaking Bad’s Albuquerque, you’re either a member of the clueless suburban class or the dark complex criminal underground, where only the most depraved and ruthless survive.
Everyone else ends up in a barrel, buried in the desert wastelands. Again, not exactly a positive or inspiring view of a city with rampant crime and poverty in real life.
People like to see their truths reflected in the media they consume. It’s too bad "El Camino" didn’t have anything else to offer.
Justin Garcia is the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Just516garc