In the final episode of Breaking Bad we saw the newly liberated Jesse Pinkman barreling down the road to nowhere in a badass El Camino screaming his bloody head off. El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, written and directed by Vince Gilligan, picks up where the BB finale left off. 

First things first: Walter White is dead! This was not a foregone conclusion as both Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston intimated in various interviews that Walt may very well be alive. So, the menace of Heisenberg has been eradicated—no more blue meth saturating the south valley of Albuquerque New Mexico! However, old Walt makes a cameo (sporting an ill-fitting bald cap) in a poignant and bittersweet flashback. Indeed, the entirety of El Camino is rather bittersweet as we see old friends fall by the wayside and new horizons on a wild frontier. 

There is much to like about El Camino. It’s shot beautifully; the pacing is spot-on; and the requisite musical numbers are delicious, unexpected, and perfectly positioned within the meth-drenched universe of Breaking Bad. And the acting is terrific from top to bottom, particularly Aaron Paul who was born to play the perpetually adolescent, tortured, fey, blue ice-slangin’ prodigal son Jesse Pinkman. As well the late Robert Forster really nails the Hoover Max Extract Pressure Pro Model 60 salesman to the hilt in this film; you just can’t keep your eyes off him. And then there’s Badger (Matt Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker); these two knuckleheads are just adorable as Jesse’s brothers from another mother. 

But the performance that is getting the most attention in the chat rooms and on the interwebs is the performance of one Jesse Plemons, (Fargo, Black Mirror, Friday Night Lights). Jesse plays Todd Alquist, the most amiable psychopath imaginable. El Camino adds new dimensions and a twisted perspective into Todd’s bizarro worldview, but that isn’t why the internet is abuzz with earnest inquiry and asymmetrical criticism. What’s producing all this deliberation is Jesse’s weight. The young actor appears to have gained thirty or forty pounds since the Breaking Bad finale. Because it’s common for people’s weight to fluctuate, this normally would not be an issue, but El Camino takes place at the same time of the Breaking Bad denouement. There is clearly a continuity problem here. All things being equal, Todd should be approximately the same weight as Breaking Bad Season 5. 

Now, there is a bit of “fat shaming” on the internet, which is reprehensible, but most people really don’t seem to care about calories, and in fact, they overwhelmingly love Jesse Plemons and admire his unique and multifaceted theatrical oeuvre. Additionally, audiences can appreciate Jesse’s string of recent roles calling for extra pounds: portraying Kevin Weeks in the Whitey Bulger film Black Mass, playing Ed Blumquist in Fargo, and the overweight Chuckie O’ Brien in The Irishman. But many BB fans are genuinely puzzled by the production’s decision to make Todd such a critical part of the El Camino plot, given the obvious continuity issues. One comment read, “I couldn’t help it, Todd’s weight just took me out of the film every time.” Another wrote, “The suspension of disbelief was gone once big Todd entered the scene.” 

Since the beginning of film history, craft has been critical in advancing the medium. Think Spielberg, Scorsese, Copolla, Kubrick; the attention to detail in their films is awe-inspiring. And aficionados around the globe revere the masters’ adherence to cinematic standards like character development, pacing, plot structure, conflict and resolution, and continuity. These standards are important and, in fact, essential because there are traditions of excellence to honor and uphold in this venerated field. So, when the producers of El Camino seemingly disregard the importance of plausibility and  continuity, they’re basically saying standards don’t matter so much overall. If this attitude were to catch on, it would threaten to undermine the credibility of the motion picture industry as a whole. 

Which begs the question: Would it have been a better choice to set the film six years after the Breaking Bad finale? The matter of age progression and weight gain would not be an issue, and the project would most likely have had a quality of realism which is lacking in El Camino. However, BB fans have waited patiently to find out where that El Camino might have taken poor ole Jesse Pinkman after his brutal incarceration and the death of the infamous Heisenberg. 

So, what do you think? Is continuity a problem here or is the film so good you just didn’t notice? Please share!

Comments

comments