REVIEWS Mercury is rising
Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Mike Myers
IBryan Singer T is easy come, easy go. A little high, a little low.
As for any way the wind blows, it doesn’t really matter.
We’re talking here, of course, about Bohemian Rhapsody, both a bitsy big-screen group hug and a grandiose greatest-hits play-through for legendary British rock band Queen.
As a whole, the movie is loud, flashy and keen to dazzle, but not so adept at depositing much in your memory banks for the long haul.
However, when experienced in the moment, you will be waving your hands in the air like you just don’t care in tribute to an electrifying portrayal of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury by little-known Egyptian-American actor Rami Malek ( from TV’s Mr Robot).
Be assured that he will, he will rock you.
Courtesy of some very sketchy scripting and a niggling need to fast-forward the audience to the next big Queen anthem on the movie’s impressive playlist, Mercury slinks off stage with both his other-worldly mystique and his colourful collection of contradictions intact.
Basic factoids such as Mercury’s exotic ethnic pedigree (he originally hailed from Zanzibar), former job as an airline baggage handler, peculiar taste in fashion and unconventional composition techniques are all covered off like answers to a drab “did-you-know?” quiz.
All you’ll really learn about Freddie here is that he was an over-the-top presence when in front of a live crowd or a studio microphone.
Occasionally big hints are dropped that he had an underthe-radar sexual preference for men, which broke the heart of the woman who was the true love of his life.
However, in scenes where Freddie is pushing Queen to excavate monster earworms such as Another One Bites the Dust, We are the Champions and, yes, the rock-opera masterpiece Bohemian Rhapsody, Malek’s bravura performance shifts the whole movie from first gear up to fifth in seconds flat.
While it is Mercury’s actual voice that you do hear on the Bohemian Rhapsody soundtrack, the accuracy of Malek’s physical embodiment of the singer — right down to the smallest, twitchiest detail — is beyond uncanny.
This is never more evident than at the movie’s triumphant climax, where Queen claw themselves back from the scrapheap with a blinding 20minute set at Wembley Stadium for the globally televised Live Aid event in 1985.
A song-for-song, riff-for-riff re-enactment of a short stage show is a weird way to end a movie, but Bohemian Rhapsody gets away with it purely because of the go-for-broke gusto with which Malek as Mercury embraces the idea.
ROCK ON: Brian May (played by Gwilym Lee, left) and Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) hit the stage in Bohemian Rhapsody.