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‘El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie’ Reviews: Critics Hail Aaron Paul and ‘Closure’ for Jesse

The Wrap Friday, 11 October 2019 ()
(Spoiler alert: At most, only minor spoilers for “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” exist below, though click-through to full outside reviews at your own risk.)

Vince Gilligan’s “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” debuted Friday on Netflix, and the reviews are enough to make even the toughest meth-dealer smile.

For starters, Paul MacInnes of The Guardian gave “El Camino” four out of a possible five stars, writing “while it has both style and content, ‘El Camino’ feels more like a feature-length TV episode than an actual movie. It is too compact and fragmented to truly stand on its own, and viewers who have not seen the preceding 62 hours of ‘Breaking Bad’ will likely struggle to enjoy it.”

Where the Netflix release “excels” is in giving the Jesse Pinkman character (Aaron Paul) “closure,” MacInnes wrote. That note would be a common theme throughout the earliest-available reviews.

*Also Read:* 'El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie': Who Did Jesse Pinkman Write That Letter to?

New York Times critic James Poniewozik found “El Camino” to be “well-crafted postscript that entertainingly extends the ‘Breaking Bad’ cinematic universe by two hours without really adding to it.”

He says Paul is “phenomenal,” and of Gilligan’s direction: “Scene for scene, the movie is a satisfying reminder of what ‘Breaking Bad’ did so well.”

But Poniewozik, a critic until the end, wondered: “I still have to ask: What did we need from ‘El Camino’?’

*Also Read:* Does 'El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie' Have a Post-Credits Scene?

Rolling Stone’s Alan Sepinwall concurred with MacInnes’ four-of-five-stars rating.

In his spoiler-free and abbreviated review, Sepinwall calls lead actor Paul “charismatic and effectively haunted.”

“Some of the action here is thrilling, some of it is horrifying, and some plain hilarious,” he writes of the movie itself, which he’d go on to conclude is “one hell of an entertaining gift.” “And in ‘El Camino’s’ best moments, it’s all of those things at the same time.”

*Also Read:* 'El Camino': Aaron Paul Talks Jesse Pinkman's Fate and How They Pulled Off Movie's 'Most Secretive Scene'

IndieWire writer Steve Greene calls “El Camino” an “impressive achievement.” For his headline adjective, Greene went with “riveting.”

Greene says the film’s 125-minute runtime is “brisk and propulsive.”

He ultimately grades it an “A-,” and concludes: “That this film can stand on its own, all while paying tribute to the show that helped birth it, is maybe the most impressive escape act of them all.”

*Also Read:* 'El Camino' Star Aaron Paul Recaps All of 'Breaking Bad' in Less Than 3 Minutes (Video)

Vox’s review is much more tepid than most.

There, Alissa Wilkinson gives “El Camino” three of five stars. Her main gripe is not an unfair or entirely unique one. Like Poniewozik, Wilkinson wonders who was actually clamoring for this sequel. After all, the “Breaking Bad” series finale didn’t stir up the level of discussion that say the “Sopranos” one did.

“The fun comes from seeing your favorite characters again, not finally resolving missing pieces that have tortured your sleep for six years,” she wrote of “El Camino.”

*Also Read:* 'Downton Abbey' Was a Hit, So Why Isn't 'El Camino' In Theaters Nationwide, Too?

In his headline, Consequence of Sound critic Michael Roffman called the sequel movie an “affecting epilogue for ‘Breaking Bad’ fans.” He’d soon tout Gilligan’s “finesse” and ultimately says “El Camino” is “impressive.”

“There was never any doubt that Gilligan loves his characters, but goddamn does ‘El Camino’ bring that idea home,” he finds.

Of the film’s many flashbacks, Roffman writes: “In typical Gilligan fashion, he finds a palatable way to have the past fuel the present. Yet rather than stopping and starting every other scene, Gilligan keeps the pedal to the metal, grooving through memories both sordid and sweet as the action at hand continues undeterred.”

*Also Read:* 'El Camino': Here's Where We Left Jesse Pinkman at the End of 'Breaking Bad'

Over at ComicBookMovie.com, Josh Wilding really loved the movie, which is enjoying a limited theatrical release this weekend. His headline calls “El Camino” a “perfect epilogue to the greatest TV show of all-time.”

There was much more flowery language where that came from, including Wilding’s conclusion where he calls the film an “absolute masterpiece.”

Wilding, who gives the movie five out of five stars, writes that Paul “delivers a powerful, compelling performance which is undeniably awards worthy.”

*Related stories from TheWrap:*

Trace Adkins Adds Lyrics to 'Breaking Bad' Theme Song in Time for 'El Camino' (Video)

'El Camino': Now You Can Bet on if Jesse Pinkman Will Die in the 'Breaking Bad' Movie – and How

'El Camino' Trailer: Aaron Paul's Jesse Pinkman Is 'Ready' in First Full Look at 'Breaking Bad' Movie (Video)
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News video: Aaron Paul would jump at the chance to play Jesse Pinkman again

Aaron Paul would jump at the chance to play Jesse Pinkman again 01:22

Aaron Paul said he would love to reprise his role as Jesse Pinkman again when asked if he would be up for doing a sequel to 'El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie'

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