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Old 10-17-2019, 07:32 PM   #19
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: NY
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I'm going to repost mine here too. I'm probably going to give more thoughts after my second watch this weekend. By the way, did you guys watch on netflix or a select theater? I saw it on the big screen at a Cinema Arts Center near me with a good, respectful crowd (mostly older folks and not too packed). It was a pretty awesome experience. If The Sopranos prequel film gets the same treatment, I'm definitely going the theater route.


I actually liked that the film was more meditative because that's exactly what made Breaking Bad so special to begin with (something the finale did away with by having Walt just randomly appear in places and magically get things done). The in-between-moments of conflict that you rarely witness in crime stories is what this show, for the better part of its run, absolutely excelled at. It's what drew me to it in the first place. By the end of Breaking Bad, Walt became such a despicable character and was so far gone from any shred of sympathy, that the show conceptually took that narrative structure away from the viewer. Long are the days of taking 3 episodes to dispose of bodies, getting the RV's battery to start, or spending an entire season figuring out how to get rid of Gus. However, a Breaking Bad film about the more empathetic Jesse makes sense to bring that methodical structure and slower pace back, especially considering he's a character who (while proven to hold his own and certainly has his moments) doesn't possess the same magic, intelligence and bravado that Walt had.

Any other film about a fugitive on the run would have gone all in for the non-stop, action-packed thrill of the lead character trying to outrun the cops. This film offers that but the tension derives from its smaller, character-driven moments. Figuring out a plan and saying goodbye to Skinny Pete and Badger instead of just bolting out of there is more real and believable to me than the film serving as a 'what would I really be doing in this situation' type of story. Same with Jesse deciding to give Todd back his gun. It's especially a moment like that which makes Jesse Pinkman a uniquely interesting and deserving character to follow here. Spending a significant chunk of the film with Jesse poking around in Todd's apartment and further exploring the trauma that Jesse had to go through rather than glossing over it with mere implications helps give his story more weight. I like that there are so many unexpected, trivial hang-ups that prevent Jesse from moving on as simply as getting in a car and driving away.

In the series finale, Jesse's story ended on an ambiguously conclusive note which was fitting, but it was just a note. Not a conclusion for a character who earned the role of co-lead (regardless if the show was intended for Walt) and proved to be just as essential a character compared to the pawn/wild card/catalyst in service to Walt's story that he unfortunately becomes towards the end of the show's run. After "Ozymandias", I didn't go into this film expecting it to be anything more climactic than simply giving the character a proper conclusion. And by proper conclusion, I don't mean a love letter to the fans. Just an actual conclusion for the character who's earned one. Can I have gone on happily with my life without ever seeing this film? Sure. But I really liked it anyway. Granted I've only seen it once, but I feel like I'm going to appreciate it more on repeat viewings. It certainly avoided the problems I was worried about, but did El Camino prove its worth? I'm still thinking on that.

Also, I feel like the flashback scenes had a more thematic point than just parading old characters in and out and providing context. It definitely helps build Jesse's mindset going forward for what his future may hold. The film also still ends rather open-ended of whether he'll be okay or not. Will he learn to adapt and appreciate his slice of secluded freedom or will he increasingly crack under the pressure of solitude like Gene seems to be with every Better Call Saul season opener?

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