After years of turmoil, which for a long time had Sacha Baron Cohen attached to play Freddie Mercury, the Queen biopic has finally landed but seems to largely have been more trouble than it was worth. The behind-the-scenes drama and firing of director Bryan Singer is well-documented for a litany of alleged indiscretions and purported unprofessional behavior, but does it bring down the movie? Yes and no. No in that the movie doesn’t appear fractured in any way, but yes in that he may not have been the right choice to direct the film to begin with. The film feels like one stuck on fast-forward as we speed through the band’s early beginnings, how and why Queen became such a sensation, and the personal life of its front-man.
Rami Malek gives an incredibly captivating performance and his commitment, along with the power of the music itself, raises the quality of the film to pleasurable entertainment rather than abject failure. Once the credits roll, it’s hard not to think about how much was left on the table. The subject of Freddie’s personal life draws a lot of screen time, yet feels handled with kid gloves. Whether this was the result of meddling from the band, trying to appease the ratings board, or the repressed nature of its director is anyone’s guess (probably a combination of the three). The end result is a film that at times can lift you out of your seat, but once the music stops, you wonder if you came away learning or feeling anything new. Grade: B-