Updated: Feb 13
BLU-RAY REVIEW / FRAME SHOTS
Aaron Paul returns as Jesse Pinkman and offers $125,000 to the Disappearer, Ed Galbraith for a new life.
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Blu-ray and DVD; 2019; TV-MA for coarse language and violence; Streaming via Netflix
Best extra: Making-of documentary
FOR ALL you “Breaking Bad” addicts who wondered whatever became of Jesse Pinkman and, by some chance, you didn’t catch “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” on Netflix, your search ends with this Sony release.
Co-produced by writer/director Vince Gilligan and actor Aaron Paul, among others, this feature-length look at Jesse’s life after his (literally) explosive escape from torture and captivity in the final episode of “BB” is a worthwhile (if overlong) ride. Fans are sure to enjoy seeing Jesse reconnect with Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) and Badger (Matt L. Jones), and watch his hilarious exchange with “the disappearer” (Robert Forster), whom Jesse expects will find him another life and identity. And for those who miss the characters killed off during the series, plenty of them reappear in flashbacks to either fill in some blanks or tie up loose ends. The movie was made for “BB” fan-atics. They will not only be delighted with “El Camino,” they’re also sure to admire the quality of its production, which excels in every department. The film is dedicated to the veteran actor Robert Forster, who died the day it was released but (as we learn from Paul in the commentary) did get to see a screening of it a couple of days before his death.
(1&2) opening flashback, Jesse meets with Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) and tells him he has decided to leave the drug business. (3) After escaping Jack Welker’s compound Jesse ends up at Skinny Pete’s house and finally takes shower while having a flashback to when Welker’s men tortured him with a high-powered water hose.
This Blu-ray presentation is just a notch down from its original Netflix 4K/HDR presentation sourced from 6K digital cameras (2.39:1 aspect ratio). Colors are beautifully saturated, the detail is always precise – especially with the cinematic shots highlighting the beautiful wide-open landscapes of New Mexico, Wyoming and Arizona. Even in extreme close-ups or low light scenes, the skin tones are natural, and with plenty of depth. The six-channel HD audio is also top-notch, with dialogue clear and intelligible, and sound effects and music cues perfectly balanced.
Sony has provided a nice batch of extras to go with this package, including two feature commentaries – one by Gilligan and Paul – the other, a “super-commentary” with 46 (count ‘em!) members of the cast and crew; a gag reel; some deleted and extended scenes; and three storyboard scene studies by Gilligan.
The making-of documentary begins with Gilligan saying the project began because he had wanted to work with Aaron Paul again, and how it turned into a very special version of “old home week.” Gilligan wanted to keep the production top secret, and praised his team for working “in a CIA-like fashion” to do so. They even came up with a variety of code names for just about everything: The movie was referred to as “Greenbriar”; actor Jonathan Banks was known as “Pops,” and so on.
(1) Old Joe (Larry Hankin) backs out of taking Jesse’s El Camino to the junkyard after the Lojack anti-theft system had been activated and the authorities are heading their way. (2) Skinny Pete comes up with a plan to switch cars. (4&5) In another flashback, Jesse is freed from the Welker compound concrete pit by Todd Alquist (Jesse Plemons), so he can help with a so-called errand. When they arrive at Todd’s apartment Jesse finds the cleaning lady, Sonia, dead on the floor.
Producer Melissa Bernstein says the movie was “filmed like a real Western.” The hair and make-up artists discuss the challenges of making Jesse look beat-up, and the different wigs needed in the course of the shoot. The costume designer had the hard job recreating clothing for the flashbacks, as well as making different versions of clothes for Jesse (i.e., clean and dirty).
Gilligan says he sees “El Camino” as a “resolution” to “Breaking Bad,” asking such questions as, “How does Jesse get away?” and “How do you escape your past?” The director adds that he had considered ending the film with Jesse in jail – but realized “nobody wants to see Jesse Pinkman go to jail!” Gilligan laughs when he recalls naming Jesse Plemons’ psychopathic character Todd “Ricky Hitler,” who “sees himself as a likable chap.” Gilligan says his favorite day of directing was the flashback scene in Arizona’s Painted Desert.
The production designer discusses her decision to shape Todd’s apartment to perfectly fit the wide-screen format, so it could be shot from overhead and make Jesse look like a rat in a maze as he tears it apart, searching for the cache of money he knows is hidden there.
Bryan Cranston reminisces about seeing Aaron Paul mature during the course of the original series — “He was a puppy when I first met him.” As for Cranston’s cameo in the film, Gilligan asks, “Who would want to see a ‘Breaking Bad’ movie without Walter White in it? It’s like a peanut butter cup without the peanut butter!”
— Peggy Earle
(1-3) Todd and Jesse take the housecleaning lady to her final resting place. The sequence was filmed in Arizona’s Painted Desert.
(1&2) Jesse goes back to Todd’s apartment to find the drug money, but he’s not the only one wanting the cash. He ends up surrendering and works out a three-way split. (3) The Disappearer (Ed Galbraith) agrees to help Jesse again if he can produce an additional $125,000. (4) Jesse calls his parents Mrs. Pinkman (Tess Harper) and Mr. Pinkman (Michael Bofshever).
(1&2) Jesse ends up at Neil’s welding business, and before the nights over there’s a massive explosion. (3) Jesse meets up with his former high school chemistry teacher Walt White (Bryan Cranston). (4) Jesse heads to the final frontier. The aerial view was taken in Wyoming near the Togwotee Pass and the Teton Range in the distance.