El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie is about to drop, so let’s reacquaint ourselves with the show





Posted

October 10, 2019 10:34:53

The Nazi drug chiefs were dead, mowed down by a robotic machine gun, and Jesse Pinkman was behind the wheel of an El Camino, speeding into the night.

Where was he headed?

We didn’t know — the final episode of Breaking Bad in 2013 ended there, with Jesse (played by Aaron Paul) bloodied and bruised but alive.

Now, we’re about to find out as El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, premieres on Netflix on Friday night.

It is a highly anticipated continuation of the original show, considered one of the best in TV history. That storyline — science teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston), dying from cancer, starts cooking methamphetamine to secure his family’s financial future — has become a pop cultural touchstone.

Here’s what you need to know before you watch the film.

What can we expect from El Camino?

Netflix has been guarded about what information is released ahead of time.

No review access has been granted to media, and the two trailers promoting El Camino have been cryptic.

The first one featured Skinny Pete, Jesse’s old dealing partner, sitting in a police interrogation room and claiming he doesn’t know what has become of his friend after he escaped from the clutches of the neo-Nazis.

In the second one, Jesse, looking ragged from his time on the lam, seeks out Pete and his old mate Badger for help in his attempt to avoid the cops.

We see Jesse digging in the desert, possibly searching for Walt’s buried millions, and a photo of Andrea and Brock, Jesse’s girlfriend — executed in the fifth season by a Nazi gang enforcer — and her young son.

Last year, Cranston said that while he had not seen a script, he understood from conversations with series creator Vince Gilligan that the film would explore “at least a couple of the characters who were not completed as far as their journey [is concerned]”.

It’s not surprising there has been a lack of information regarding the plot.

The film was made under extreme secrecy. To keep them in the dark, Gilligan had the actors film scenes that were never intended to be used.

“We stayed in hotels under pseudonyms,” Matt Jones, who plays Badger, told the show Fair Game.

“We had to wear robes over our costumes if we were outside, so nobody could shoot a camera from far away.”

The existence of the film became public in November last year, when the New Mexico Film Office confirmed a film called Greenbrier, about a kidnapped man’s quest for freedom, was about to begin production but would not confirm local media reports it was related to Breaking Bad.

Where did the series leave off?

Over five seasons, Jesse Pinkman, Walter White’s former student turned meth sous chef, went from small-time drug dealer and local no-hoper to a dude who had seen some stuff and grown wise and weary.

In season 3 Jesse, fearing he will be knocked off by drug king Gus Fring if he appears expendable, kills Gale, the gentle nerd who represents his competition as Walter’s underling.

Aaron Paul’s face as he surprises Gale in the doorway of his home and pulls the trigger was a striking moment. The best art colours characters in shades of grey, neither all good or all bad. You felt sorrow for both men, even though both were criminals and one was about to murder the other.

“The underlying themes of Breaking Bad have always been connected to the characters’ morality and self-perception of whether they are in the right with the choices they make,” Dan Barrett, of the pop culture newsletter Always Be Watching, said when news of the film emerged last year.

“A Breaking Bad film can go in any number of directions, but as long as it stays true to the established themes of Breaking Bad, I think fans will be satisfied by whatever Vince Gilligan comes up with.”

In the final episode of the show, Jesse is saved from his brutal life as a slave-cook to a gang of white supremacist drug dealers by Walter, who uses a DIY-rigged robotic machine gun to mow the Nazis down.

As Walter dies in the cook shop from a wound inflicted during the shootout, Jesse is seen speeding away in a Chevrolet El Camino.

The film, it seems, will pick up from that point.

Which characters aside from Jesse and his mates will return? We know Jonathan Banks is returning as Mike Ehrmantraut, Gus Fring’s head-kicker, suggesting he didn’t die in season 5 after all.

Though Gilligan has confirmed that Walter White is definitely dead, it’s not clear whether Cranston’s character will return in a flashback or a beyond-the-grave kind of fashion.

Why are we getting this?

A few reasons.

Firstly, Breaking Bad is consistently voted one of the best television series of all time. Its final season received huge viewer numbers, and Australians were so keen for it they topped a global list of illegal downloaders of the final episode.

So, it’s no surprise Sony Pictures Television, which produced Breaking Bad, was receptive to Gilligan’s plans to continue the story, despite him saying after the show’s finale that they had “picked the right moment to exit the stage”.

Paul told The New York Times recently that Gilligan called him in 2017, on the pretence of celebrating the 10th anniversary of the show, and alluded to “an idea of where to take it from here”. Paul subsequently read the script and loved it.

“I couldn’t speak for a good 30, 60 seconds,” he said of finishing it. “I was just lost in my thoughts.”

Better Call Saul, a spin-off centred on Walter and Jesse’s criminal lawyer (emphasis on the “criminal”) Saul Goodman, has also seen strong ratings across a number of seasons, boding well for any possible revival.

Secondly, nostalgia. Reboots and remakes rate. Audiences love familiarity.

“It used to be that stars would drive a film’s popularity at the box office,” Luke Buckmaster, a film and TV critic at The Guardian and flicks.com.au, told the ABC.

“Now it’s all about brands.”

Topics:

arts-and-entertainment,

film-movies,

television



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