RATING: 3/5 stars
Picture this: someone’s pants are floating in the air. An RV van zooms past as they fall, driven by a man in his underwear wearing a gas mask. How on earth did he get here and where is he going with this?
This is how Breaking Bad, this film’s predecessor, began. (And I would highly recommend watching the series before you watch the movie, which is available to stream on Netflix.)
Basking in Breaking Bad’s’ cult show status the movie is filled with easter eggs and like the man in the van, hurtles to its destination without giving any explanations.
It starts Aaron Paul as Jesse, but with a deeper voice.
This is not the story of a brilliant but failed chemist diagnosed with cancer who turns to cooking meth, it is the story of his former pupil and business partner Jesse Pinkman in his journey to leave the ghost of Breaking Bad behind.
An early scene shows a flashback of Jesse talking with his mentor Mike about walking away from his and Walter’s drug business.
“Start fresh,” Jesse says to Mike.
“One could,” he answers.
“Put things right,” Jesse adds.
“No. Sorry kid, that is the one thing you can never do,” Mike tells him.
The film has an undercurrent of unfinished business as it reveals beat by beat the fate of many characters, and those left wondering whether Walter White died or not in the show’s last episode will get their answer.
An answer which will come over the course of just over two hours.
While the film does pick up its pace near the end, it does take its sweet time.
In the meantime, you have more of the A+ performances and cinematography (featuring plenty gorgeous landscape shots of New Mexico) that made the series note-worthy to dazzle your eyeballs while you wait.
Until Jesse appears to follow in Walt’s footsteps, shaving his head and using chemistry to blow up a house and the movie draws to a close with several bangs, metaphorical and literal.
And unlike the series, the bangs are not the resolution of Walter White’s breaking bad, but the resolution of Jesse’s breaking free.
While Jesse’s journey to freedom amounts to an interesting thriller, it does not hit home with the power the show had.
Sure, there’s the required twists, much hiding from the police, the endless wads of dollar bills and people shooting at each other, but it has the fluff of fan fiction, not entirely surprising and a touch too satisfying.
Do not get me wrong, I am glad Jesse is okay.
But as a fan of Breaking Bad, I liked the film – I did not love it.