This column contains spoilers for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
It feels like forever since the world of entertainment got buzzed about something that didn't involve space, superpowers or dragons. Those things used to be fairly rare and that made them something special.
Now wherever you look there's some hero or other battling inner demons while also saving the world from space dragons and quipping wise as a classic rock tune blares away in the background.
And ya know, that's fine. I'm down for a big flashy blockbuster that lets me turn off my brain for a couple of hours and whizzes by in a blur of big, bombastic thrills and over-the-top set-pieces.
But as famed director Martin Scorsese quite rightly pointed out last week, these movies are, "theme park rides". A rush of visual adrenaline and bright colours designed to spin your head and pop your eyes. They're fun and all but there's so many that the novelty's worn off somewhat.
That's why it was so enjoyable seeing everyone getting super-hyped for something based in our humdrum everyday world. The release of El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie on Netflix last weekend caused summer blockbuster levels of excitement and I, for one, was there for it.
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If it'd been another faceless straight-to-Netflix film that pop up every month no one would've given a damn. But it wasn't. It was the continuation of one of the all-time TV greats.
The big question was, would it be any good? The short answer being yes.
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie - the podcast: Listen to our entertainment team's review
Breaking Bad fans get the answers they've been waiting for
stunning finale, Felina, remains one of the most satisfying and acclaimed final episodes ever. In it we see meth kingpin Walter White's accomplice turned frenemy Jesse Pinkman escaping a Nazi gang, murdering his captor Todd, taking his keys and hooning off into the distance in Todd's prized El Camino while police swarm the compound.
This is exactly where El Camino picks up. Jesse's behind the wheel laugh-crying hysterically and fleeing into the night.
There's an argument to be made that we didn't need to see what happened next. And I agree with that. We didn't. We saw Jesse's final confrontation with his former mentor and we saw his escape. There was closure to his story and still oodles of room for fans to speculate on his fate.
Did he really evade the deluge of police flooding into the gang's compound or did he live happily ever after? It was up to you.
Now, it's not.
Instead, we see exactly what happens to Jesse and how things turn out. The funny part is that at the end of the movie we're once again left with a whole lot of room for the audience's imagination to roam. Does Jesse live happily ever after with his new identity in the small Alaskan town he'll now call home? Or do circumstances once again conspire to make him break bad?
We don't know. Just as we didn't know when he sped off into the night. But I don't think offering supreme closure was the point of El Camino . At least not for this viewer.
Like an addict I'd been fiending for more Breaking Bad ever since it finished back in 2013. Even now it remains the gold standard for which other premium TV shows must be judged. You bet I wanted another hit and that's what El Camino delivers.
We see Jesse reunite with his cronies, pals and enemies either in real time or via flashback, we get a lot of backstory for his time spent as a prisoner of the Aryan Brotherhood gang and we get the Walter White cameo we all immediately wanted once we learned El Camino was a thing.
The stakes of the movie are life and death for our hero, but they also manage to be relatively low key. Despite having almost $300,000 in crime money it's not quite enough to buy him the new identity he desperately needs and the fare to be smuggled to the last frontier, Alaska. He's $1800 short. True, that's not much money if you have it. But, and I speak from experience here, it's an absolute fortune if you don't...
And that's El Camino right there. In true Breaking Bad spirit the way this story is told is innovative, thrilling and filled with surprise moments of black humour. The way Jesse learns about the $300k, gets the $300k and then learns its not enough is told through two different timelines that interweave beautifully.
There's been complaints that everyone is visibly older, the sociopath Todd being the most cited example. It didn't bother me. Everything you watch requires suspension of disbelief and if you've watched space wizards battle each other it's really no big deal.
So while El Camino wasn't necessary to the Breaking Bad story it was hugely entertaining. And, you know what? That's more than enough.
You could say it's Breaking Great.