Malek Shines as Mercury in Queen Biopic

By Michael Omoruan

A poster for the UK release of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Photo courtesy of Flickr.

According to a report from Deadline, the biopic on the British rock band Queen was in its development stage for almost 10 years. Now the wait is finally over. The film, called “Bohemian Rhapsody” after one of the band’s most well-known songs, features Rami Malek in the lead role of Freddie Mercury. Best known for his Emmy award-winning portrayal of Elliot Alderson, an introverted cybersecurity engineer on USA Network’s “Mr. Robot”, Malek plays one of the most charismatic and legendary performers in rock ‘n’ roll history. He plays the role almost effortlessly, from Mercury’s humble beginnings as a baggage handler to his set at the Live Aid benefit concert.

Malek is joined by Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor; Joseph Mazzello as John Deacon; and Gwilym Lee as Brian May, who were Mercury’s bandmates. A cameo appearance from Mike Myers is a golden nugget for Queen fans. In 1992, Myers starred in “Wayne’s World”, a motion picture spin-off of his “Saturday Night Live” character, Wayne Campbell. In the iconic scene, Campbell, along with his best friend Garth Algar, played by Dana Carvey, sing along to the Queen song “Bohemian Rhapsody” in Garth’s AMC Pacer.  However, in the film “Rhapsody”, Myers plays EMI record executive Ray Foster.

In an interview Myers gave on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he described the character as “fictional,” based on a number of record label executives who doubted that anyone would enjoy the ambitious, revolutionary sound of Bohemian Rhapsody. In this role, Myers crushes it doing what can be best described as Shrek if he were raised in Liverpool during the 1970s.  

Ironically, this cast was not part of the original vision of the film. Instead, according to Deadline, big names like David Fincher, director of “Social Network” and “Gone Girl”, were. Eventually, 20th Century Fox settled on “X-Men: Apocalypse” director Bryan Singer to helm the film, which was plagued with production issues. After halting production due to his inability to arrive on set in London, Singer was replaced by “Eddie the Eagle” and “Rocketman” director, Dexter Fletcher for the remaining scenes.  Although Singer still holds the title of director, Fletcher was given the executive producer credit. 

Various audiences were on the edge of their seats after seeing the embodiment of timeless classics like “We Will Rock You” and the eponymous title song. The sound mixing and cinematography was impressive. The dazzling display of lights brought it all together and the Dolby theater speakers made it feel like a live performance was taking place. 

The film brilliantly conveys the dark side of fame and fortune, as well as Freddie Mercury’s promiscuity. When Malek comes to terms with his AIDS diagnosis, the audience sees his true acting ability, as the vulnerability in his eyes is palpable.  All of the band members were played exceptionally well, and one can definitely foresee Oscar nominations for Malek and costume designer Julian Day. The issues and conflicts that halted production on this film are barely noticeable. Anyone who’s a true a rock n’ roll fan or loves a great biopic will love this one.