For decades, Queen fans have been mesmerized by Freddie Mercury’s four-octave voice. Bryan Singer’s film “Bohemian Rhapsody” tributes the legacy of Queen, one of the most influential rock bands of the 1970s and ‘80s. More specifically, it chronicles the musical career of Freddie Mercury, the wildly eccentric lead singer of the band. The film celebrates how the lead singer’s courageous persona shaped the man he was, as well as the legend that is Queen. The character of Freddie called for a performance of the caliber of Rami Malek (of “Mr. Robot” fame), whose chilling transformation reincarnated the lead singer’s energetic personality. Malek gave the role his all, whether flaunting his carelessly wild side, or his occasionally stoic, melancholy nature, embodying the tempestuous life of Queen. In addition to Malek’s work, some memorable performances include that of Ben Hardy as Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor, as well as a surprisingly short, but scene-stealing performance by Mike Myers as Ray Foster, a music producer who turned down Queen in their early years.
Besides Malek’s powerful transformation into Mercury, the obvious strong point of the film is its soundtrack. The opening scene blasts off with the iconic tune of “Somebody to Love” that sets the uplifting tone of the film. The movie uses Queen’s music to drive the story, not just as background music. It explores the beginnings of some greatest hits, which definitely were highlights of the film. The soundtrack incorporates both Queen’s original tracks, as well as redone ones with Malek’s voice, which is not a hindrance. Rather, it allows for emotional moments that put a smile on my face.
Bryan Singer’s expertise behind the camera was also clearly at play here. All of the musical numbers were accompanied with sweeping, beautiful cinematography. This is especially true for the finale, a concert where the camerawork, along with the iconic tunes, made those scenes an incredible cinematic experience. Singer’s efforts also shined during the more serious, personal moments. Close-up reaction shots do a superb job of grounding the film. With a biopic about a band as influential as Queen, it would be easy to make the film larger than life — and subsequently inaccessible to its audience. Thankfully, the film’s mixture between iconic music and the struggles Mercury faced make “Bohemian Rhapsody”’s characters feel like real humans, instead of caricatures.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is 135 minutes long. At certain points, the film noticeably dragged and as a whole it would have benefitted from being 15 or 20 minutes shorter. One of the film’s biggest mistakes, in terms of plot, was the lack of exploration of Mercury’s backstory and family life. The opening scenes glossed over Mercury’s early life, as well as some potentially interesting family dynamics that could been an integral part of the film. The majority of Mercury’s family life was touched on for about five minutes, before Mercury meets the band and establishes Queen within the first 10 minutes. This doesn’t allow the two remaining hours to cover as much ground in terms of character depth as it should have.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is a stylish, well-crafted ode to the infamous band Queen as well as its legendary vocalist Mercury, and is spearheaded by a killer Queen soundtrack and a magnificent performance by Malek. The movie will have Queen fans grinning and singing along, while those who don’t know as much about Queen will be introduced to both their style as a band and their music. “Bohemian Rhapsody” will rock you and make you thump your feet along with the movie.