El Camino, the movie sequel to Breaking Bad, has been predictably embraced by die-hard fans of the TV show since it was released on Netflix at midnight on Thursday.
But film critics have been harsher in their review of the two-hour production, calling it a ‘flat tire’ which leaves much to be desired in the wake of the show’s monumental success.
El Camino follows not Walter White – the central character in Breaking Bad who died at the end of the series six years ago – but his younger underling, Jesse Pinkman.
In the final scene of the TV series, Pinkman is seen driving away in a Chevrolet El Camino after being freed by White from the meth-lab where he was being held hostage.
The sequel is about the days afterwards and follows Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul, as he tries to move on from their murderous, crime spree.
Fans adored it, calling it a ‘masterpiece’ and raving about Paul’s performance.
Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, which dazzled fans but left critics wanting more
Some said he deserved a litany of awards and they also praised Vince Gilligan, who directed both the series and the movie.
But critics say the movie lacked meaning or substance. They called it ‘slow’, ‘superfluous’ and ‘worse than bad’.
Vox’s take was: ‘They slow down the action to the point where El Camino’s biggest weakness is that it feels like it’s going nowhere a lot of the time — out of character for a show that always felt as though every scene or joke or line of dialogue served to move the story forward.’
The Guardian criticized the film’s structure, saying it felt more like a ‘feature-length TV episode’ than 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,’ its critic said.
Deadline was even less generous.
‘Unlike the brilliance that was so much of the multiple Emmy winning series’ five season run on AMC, El Camino, is a half measure sequel, to paraphrase Jonathan Banks’ Mike Ehrmantraut in that pivotal twelfth episode of Season 3 of Breaking Bad.
It’s not that El Camino is bad, it’s not. The Vince Gilligan penned and directed project is actually worse than that in many ways.
‘It’s worse because it neither sucks nor soars. El Camino mainly just fills space, and likely time – something Breaking Bad never did,’ its critic said.
Iconic: Breaking Bad followed dejected high-school chemistry teacher Walter White, who starts making Crystal Meth with former student Jesse, after being diagnosed with lung cancer
Drama: El Camino follows Jesse, now on the run, as he tries to put his life back together after escaping with his life from an Aryan Brotherhood gang after their clash with Walter White
Variety it as ‘a story stretching its limits’ and Jesse as ‘more avatar than person’.
The movie follows Pinkman in the 48 hours after he breaks free from the meth-lab and as he tries to escape Albuquerque before he can be arrested or killed.
He sets his sights on Alaska and the viewer follows him as he attempts to leave the New Mexico town where he and White set-up and operated their unlikely drug empire.
It is peppered with flashbacks which allows for the reintroduction of characters from the show who were killed off, including White.
Breaking Bad followed dejected high-school chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston), who decides to start making Crystal Meth with his former student Jesse, after he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Originally intending to make money as a way to pay for his treatment and support his family, Walt soon loses himself to the apparent advantages of criminal life and soon becomes a drug lord known by the pseudonym Heisenberg.
Deadline was among outlets whose film critics said the film was disappointing
But fans loved the movie and called for Paul and the movie’s creator to be rewarded with Oscars
Jesse was last seen driving off into the night after being kidnapped and forced under duress to make Meth for Todd (Jesse Plemons), his uncle Jack (Michael Bowen), and his gang of goons.
He managed to escape after Walt -now a wanted man- came to kill Todd and the Aryan brotherhood with a machine gun he concealed in the back of his car to remove the last few people who know how to make his Blue Sky drug.
Jesse, who then had an estranged relationship with Walt, was brought out of his underground prison-turned-lab to see him, and, in his rage, tackles his former business partner to the ground.
During the punch-up, Jesse triggered the switch connected to the machine gun which then fired into the room, mortally injuring Walt, and killing everyone inside except for himself.
Now free from his captors, Jesse drives off in delight while Walt returns to the lab as police come to raid the premises, but, before they can catch him, he collapses and dies of his gunshot wound.
Breaking Bad aired on AMC for five seasons from 2008-2013; The series boasts 16 Prime Time Emmy wins and 58 nominations as well as two Peabody Awards.
El Camino is out now in select cinemas and on Netflix.