It’s not just fantasy. With gusto and soul, Mr. Robot star Rami Malek turns this formulaic biopic about Queen frontman Freddie Mercury (inset) into a rousing and riveting character piece. His story zips straight to London 1970, when the airport baggage handler introduces himself to guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy). They soon form Queen and embark on the same rise-and-fall-and-rise trajectory seen in every single VH1 Behind the Music episode. This is also not the destination for introspection regarding Mercury’s bisexuality — he died of complications from AIDS in 1991 — or his artistic stylings. But Queen fans should look past these flaws. That’s because the film showcases the music in all its splendor. The hits are all here, from “We Will Rock You” to “Another One Bites the Dust” and the glorious operatic title track. The performances culminate in Queen’s foot-stomping, chills-inducing 1985 Live Aid set at London’s Wembley Stadium. Malek doesn’t just move across the stage like Mercury; he makes love to the mic stand and adoringly basks in the spotlight. Somewhere, an outrageous icon knows that his Queen movie rules.
“It’s not a documentary,” says Malek (right, with Lee). “We take liberties with the chronology.”