Queen is one of those universal bands that everyone has not only heard of, but everyone has a favorite song of theirs. Outside of the Beatles and Journey, not many other bands have achieved that. There is a universal appeal to Queen, not just through their music, but through the life of its lead singer, Freddie Mercury. It’s so intertwined with Queen that the two are practically indistinguishable, despite the fact that it shouldn’t.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” takes this aspect of Queen’s appeal to create a safe yet well-made version of the band’s rise to success and the tragic story of Freddie Mercury. The film is headlined by a wonderful performance from Rami Malek as Mercury, as he practically disappears into the role to give a whirlwind tirade told through rock music and sexual exploration. And while the film never reaches outrageous status, this is ultimately a harmless film about a rock band with some of the biggest universal appeal the world has ever seen.
That being said, most of the better moments in “Bohemian Rhapsody” are the simple scenes between the band members and how their conflicts led to some of their best songs, especially ones like “We Will Rock You” and “Another One Bites the Dust.” While Freddie is the showstopper, the film works best when it focuses on the band, trying to calm that diva within Freddie to show his true potential. The way conflict turns into success is handled well throughout this movie.
But what pushes this film down is its lack of focus. They try to cover so much of Freddie’s descent into wild sex parties and the rock star lifestyle that they never bothered to ask why this happened. They’re trying to say so much about Freddie and why he took this path that feels like it’s saying nothing. There’s no focal point for Freddie that lasts throughout the whole film, which is what was desperately needed to wrangle him in.
Because of this “Bohemian Rhapsody” is only ever a serviceable bio-pic of Freddie Mercury, led by a stunning performance from Malik, that only touches upon the band from time to time. The film is often chaotic and misguided, while only giving us the origin of some of Queen’s greatest hits. The film feels like an incomplete picture of the band, while still hitting many of the right notes to hit that universal appeal of a legendary rock band.
Final Grade: C