6. The Godfather (1972)
Considered the best mob film of all time and one of the greatest films ever in general, Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” is an emblem of American cinema and a great influence on many of the later gangster genre films and TV series. “The Godfather” has influenced filmmakers from Martin Scorsese to David Chase, and without a doubt has also had a great impact on Vince Gilligan’s “Breaking Bad.”
While talking about Saul Goodman, the eccentric lawyer who helps Walter White in his endeavors, Gilligan said, “the original idea for the character was that Walter White needed a consigliere, like Tom Hagan was to Michael Corleone in ‘The Godfather.’” Moreover, while discussing the show’s finale, Gilligan admitted that he had deliberately given nods to the 1972 classic film: “We’re always asking ourselves, How does this relate to ‘The Godfather’? In the finale, we may give even a more overt tip of the hat.”
We suppose you’ve already seen “The Godfather,” but still, it might be interesting to watch it again while trying to draw a parallel between it and “Breaking Bad.” Also, while talking about works influenced by “The Godfather,” go watch “The Sopranos” if you haven’t seen it yet. David Chase’s show is the missing link between “The Godfather” and “Breaking Bad.”
7. Spun (2002)
You can’t help but wonder why wasn’t this film better received by critics. It has its flaws, but its 37 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes really doesn’t reflect reality.
The movie shows the lives of a group of methamphetamine addicts and it doesn’t back off from revealing all of the appalling aspects surrounding this kind of existence, as the film is filled with nudity, swearing, gross imagery and repulsive characters. With all of this being said, this film is a black comedy so most of the time it is amusing rather than bleak.
Apart from its story and characters, the film amazes with its great editing and cinematography, and this is might be the most “Breaking Bad” thing about it. “Spun” is filled with point-of-view shots, lighting and composition that is similar to “Breaking Bad,” and lots of crazy editing choices which work surprisingly well in the context of the film.
The music, which features a couple of songs from Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan and other rock artists such as Ozzy Osbourne and Mötley Crüe, complements the movie very nicely. Moreover, Corgan has a cameo in this film as a doctor, and so does Rob Halford of Judas Priest, who plays a porn shop clerk.
“Spun” is not “Trainspotting” quality – and is also not as far from it as the critics let you think – but it is a truly entertaining film and it showcases a lot of talent from its director and screenwriters. Also, a shout out to the great cast, including Mickey Rourke and Brittany Murphy, who are both great in this film.
8. Fargo (1996)
If you’re looking for films that blend violence with humor and have a similar style to “Breaking Bad,” the Coen brothers are your best bet. “Fargo” is one of their best known and appreciated films. At the time of its release, it was nominated for seven Oscars, winning two, including Best Actress for Frances McDormand and Best Original Screenplay for Joel and Ethan Coen. In 2014, it even spawned a television series which has already ended airing its third season and might be another thing you’d like to watch.
Set in the winter landscape of a small Minnesota town, “Fargo” is said to be “based on a true story” – although it isn’t – and follows Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), a sales manager who decides to hire two amateur crooks to kidnap his wife, hoping to obtain a ransom from his rich father-in-law. But the most memorable performance from this film is given by McDormand, who plays Marge Gunderson, a pregnant police chief who investigates the murders resulted from the crooks’ amateurism. Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare are also perfectly cast as Carl and Gaear, the two crooks.
9. Ikiru (1952)
This 1952 classic Japanese film was directed by Akira Kurosawa and is based on Leo Tolstoy’s novella “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” (1886). It tells the story of Kanji Watanabe, a middle-aged bureaucrat who gets diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer and goes on a search for the meaning of existence.
Vince Gilligan admitted the influence “Ikiru” had on “Breaking Bad” and especially on Walter White’s character in a 2011 radio interview: “There’s a wonderful Kurosawa movie from the 50s in which a man, a mid-level, very much a Walter White (…) finds out he’s dying of cancer. And in the last months of his life what he chooses to do is a very good thing. It’s to build a playground, a small playground in Tokyo for the children in his neighborhood.”
10. Formula 51 (2001)
“Formula 51” (also known as “The 51st State”) is a British action film that stars Samuel L. Jackson as Elmo McElroy, an American master chemist who creates a new drug formula that is said to be 51 times stronger than anything else around and, coincidentally enough, is blue coloured, just like Walter White’s 99.1 percent pure crystal methamphetamine.
After betraying drug lord The Lizard (played by Meat Loaf) and killing everyone at the lab, McElroy flies to Liverpool, trying to sell his new concoction to someone else. However, The Lizard sends a paid hitman after him and soon chaos ensues.
This Quentin Tarantino/Guy Ritchie ripoff is not the best film on this list, but you will be surprised to see how many similarities there are between its plot and “Breaking Bad.”