Based on legendary music icons Freddie Mercury and Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody follows them through their span of worldwide popularity through the 1970’s and 80’s and attempts to give viewers a look into the wild life of Mercury.
Much like the iconic song it gets its name from, Bohemian Rhapsody is loud, sporadic, and intriguing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to the legendary status of the man and band it focuses on. Starring Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, the film chronicles a 15 year span of the band’s history, beginning with Freddie joining Queen and culminating in their famous Live Aid performance in 1985. The film serves as more of a flyover of some of Queen’s greatest hits than a real in-depth look at one of the most legendary bands in history. And while there certainly are some high points such as the great opening sequence, they’re too few and far between to tie the film together in any meaningful way. Functioning on pure nostalgia alone, it may fare better with hardcore Queen fans, but it also plays with the bands lore and overall accuracy of the information to the point that it feel less like a biopic and more like an homage that is only loosely based on the events it depicts. At it’s best, Bohemian Rhapsody is just that, an homage to Mercury that diehard fans will most likely find more redeeming qualities in than general audiences. One that gives audiences a sense of what the more serious and mundane aspects of his life might’ve been like. While at its worst, it’s a jumbled mess that stumbles through landmark moments in Freddie and Queen’s history while all too often not stopping to smell the roses.
Credit where credit is due, Malek’s performance as Mercury is great, perfectly encapsulating the flare and personality that he was known for. He even received praise from surviving Queen member Roger Taylor for his dead on performance. And while the rest of the band members aren’t given much characterization of their own, they at least don’t take away at all from the overall experience. Mike Myers also gets a cheeky cameo as a completely fictional music executive that turns the song “Bohemian Rhapsody” away (get it? Because Wayne’s World?) which is not completely horrible.
The film isn’t a complete waste of time, and does have some rather redeeming moments. The sequence where the band is recording the titular hit is rather well done. As well as the grandiose ending recreation of the band’s Live Aid performance, which proves there were a lot of good ideas that went into Bohemian Rhapsody’s production. It is obvious the amount of passion and genuine inspiration that was put in, but what ultimately comes out is not as coherent or relevant as its creators intended. It’s unclear exactly what kind of film would have resulted had director Bryan Singer not left the project midway through production, but it’s hard to sit with the finished product and not get the feeling that something is ultimately missing.
In the end, the film is more of an I’m in Love with my Car than a Bohemian Rhapsody.