Tuesday, October 15, 2019

What I’m Watching: El Camino

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (B-)

Aside from a recently-concluded epic HBO fantasy series, it’s hard to find a show quite as beloved as “Breaking Bad.” While “Better Call Saul” has been an immensely worthwhile show in its own right, it doesn’t fill the same niche that the original series did. The idea to have a TV movie that brings back one of the most popular characters makes a lot of sense, if only for the viewership numbers that Netflix is sure to get as a result. That said, it’s hardly necessary, and I don’t think much is gleaned from it. Aaron Paul was always great, though I do think he ended up taking a few trophies that should have gone instead to the likes of Giancarlo Esposito, and maybe even Jonathan Banks or Dean Norris. Because of the state in which we found Jesse in the series finale, he didn’t really come alive throughout this movie until he got the cops called on him and had to spring into action to take cover while he thought he was calling Ed’s bluff. It was admittedly fun to see some of the old characters, like Saul, and Walt, and Krysten Ritter’s Jane. I’d argue that the strongest performances in this movie came from Jesse Plemons as Todd, believing deep down that he was treating Jesse kindly when he was keeping him captive, and the late Robert Forster, who died the day this was released, reprising his role from the penultimate episode. I also recognized Larry Hankin, who I know best as Mr. Heckles from “Friends,” as Old Joe, and Scott MacArthur as Neil, a character who bore some resemblance to the part he plays on “The Righteous Gemstones.” This felt like an extension of the show because so much of it featured emotional and nostalgic returns to what he lost, ultimately revealing that, besides those two friends he saw near the start, he doesn’t have anyone in his life anymore after all he’s endured (and done to himself, in part). This was a fine and moderately engaging return to that world, but there’s no real reason that it needed to be made.

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