KyleJParker’s review published on Letterboxd:
I'm not a television guy; my short attention likes a concise beginning, middle, and end, preferably one with a deliberate vision in mind. I abhor TV shows that air without a clear vision of their "endgame," with actions of previous scenes not really mattering in the long run. I don't like filler, as I'm sure most don't. Thus, I don't finish most television shows.
Breaking Bad was my antithesis to all of that - a masterfully crafted show that lingered in its developed scenes, built tension with the smallest details, had a clear vision of how it had to end, and wasted little time. I consumed the TV show as it aired, and even if some felt the ending was a bit "safe," it wrapped up the series in a way I was immensely satisfied with...and thus, with the announcement of El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, got nervous. Sure, Better Call Saul continues to maintain a high degree of quality, but anytime a series refuses to die, there's cause for concern, even with Vince Gilligan at the helm. But, upon its ending, and Jesse Pinkman's ending, there's little to fear: This is Breaking Bad quality, with an acknowledgement, and not a repetition, of that past.
This is Jesse Pinkman's story, first and foremost. There's no cheap attempt to bring back older character for an ensemble approach (or "revive" dead characters). Sure, El Camino exists in equal parts and present through its flashbacks, but the majority feel important for fleshing out the horror Pinkman endured, with the remainder all contributing to the idea of moving on - that's physically, and emotionally, the point of El Camino. It's a slow burner with a lot less action and violence than expected (although the flashbacks do give some sinister scenes, thanks to an old favorite), and while its plot points may be few and far between, they have a heft to them that occasionally matches the top moments of the critically acclaimed AMC series.
Aaron Paul also brings his best, putting on a masterclass in pain, trying to atone for the past. I do wish some his past mistakes had been more highlighted, and his attempts to reconcile them, but this is a movie, not a TV show. Ultimately, most of whats going on is not essential or especially consequential, but for anyone feeling Pinkman got the short end of the stick in Breaking Bad's finale need feel at ease: This is the sendoff Pinkman always deserved. My father remarked that it seemed to be "setting up for another one," but it won't be necessary - the business is done and buried.
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie is a nice sendoff to one of the greatest TV shows of all time, and I appreciate its acknowledgement to all that happened, without trying to start anew (I see you, 24). It might not be required Netflix movie viewing, but for anyone wanting one last ride with Jesse Pinkman, it's worth the drive.