‘Breaking Bad’: Six movies the Bryan Cranston show evoked

Numerous cultural critics, not to mention “Breaking Bad” maestro Vince Gilligan himself, have cited cinema’s influence in the crafting of the hit series. And for good reason: There are scores of film references in just a single episode of the Bryan Cranston show.

AMC’s finale Sunday night garnered a whopping 10.3 million viewers (more people than went out and paid for tickets to a solid cinematic hit like, say, “The Purge” this past summer, speaking of movies. And we have a feeling this one will be around a lot longer).

With that in mind, here are six movies -- some intuitive, some less so -- that the show evoked and that, who knows, may be able to fill the void on a rainy Netflix day now that Walt and Jesse are gone from the airwaves forever.

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“Taxi Driver.” A man is driven to the edge by forces (possibly) beyond his control and squanders whatever sympathy we have for him with his increasingly desperate acts. And of course, there are the bloody gun fights. Academic papers galore could be written about the Travis Bickle-Walt White dichotomy. Or just watch a few episodes and the Scorsese movie back to back. You may not sleep for weeks.


“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Gilligan has said he sees his show as a Western, above all else, which only makes this comparison more resonant. The fact that both “Breaking Bad” and “Butch Cassidy” are about two men on the run whose fate we somehow know won’t turn out well cements the comparison.

“Fargo,” or most things Coen-ish. A bleak Middle America populated by emasculated male characters who try to overcome their destiny with the help of some stylized violence? Not to mention tense moments interrupted by oddball humor? (Tableside guacamole. anyone?) The first episode of this season was titled “Blood Money.” It could have been called “Blood Simple” and we’d barely have batted an eye.

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“The French Connection.” Gilligan has cited this movie before, saying he was thinking about it as he made the pilot. The Gene Hackman film about a pair of cops caught up in an intricate plot makes the comparison meaningful; the fact that it all happens in the world of drug-trafficking only heightens the similarities. Then there’s the look of the ‘70s classic, which Gilligan has said he was consciously trying to emulate.

“Falling Down.” Middle-aged suburban ennui turns to something violent but oddly liberating. “American Beauty” isn’t far behind either, if you’re going down this road.

“Back to the Future.” A stretch to compare a good-natured, sci fi-influenced piece of ‘50s nostalgia to one of the darkest shows in TV history? Perhaps. But a shrewd mad scientist, a young male protégé who in some ways becomes smarter than the master and a surprisingly tender if twisted love story -- all rolled into something hugely watchable that will have you glued to the TV anytime you come across it on cable? There are worse comparisons. Plus, aren’t nuclear-trafficking Libyans just a little like Mexican drug cartels?

Meredith Blake contributed to this report.


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