Rocketman quite literally soars past last year’s notoriously troubled Bohemian Rhapsody, as director Dexter Fletcher delivers a fantastical but grounded look at the life of Sir. Elton John played brilliantly by Kingsman’s own Taron Edgerton. Fletcher doesn’t shy away from the “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll” that form a key part of John’s career and life in the way that Bohemian Rhapsody did and the movie is all the better for it, giving us a warts-and-all portrayal of one of the greatest rockstars of all times life.
Edgerton’s performance is truly mesmerising and transformative. If you thought Rami Malek embodied Freddie Mercury well then “you ain’t seen nothin yet” as Edgerton captures not only the mannerisms of Elton well but his incredible vocal range as well performing all of his songs himself in the movie. He doesn’t always hit the note perfectly but it’s a more than commendable feat, and already seems a contender for some serious awards buzz. But the supporting cast shouldn’t be overlooked either. Jamie Bell in particular delivers a touching performance as Elton’s platonic lifelong friend Bernie Taupin and Richard Madden delivers a far more snide John Reid than we saw in Bohemian Rhapsody with Aidan Gillen’s take on the record executive.
But it’s in the movie’s footstomping and inventive musical numbers that the film shines brightest. Fletcher embraces the eccentric and extravagant style of Elton perfectly with a lot of his songs taking a literal approach. At one point Edgerton even becomes a literal Rocketman whilst performing the song to a sold-out crowd. And it’s that inventiveness and willingness to take risks that really set Rocketman apart from oher music biopic’s. It’s frequently bizarre and over-the-top and works all the better for it. But it also doesn’t hold back from showing the darker, more grounded parts of John’s life. From his drug’s and alcohol addiction (of which he’s now 18 years sober of) to the sex orgy’s and many promiscuous nights out. It’s truly a no-holds-barred look at the rockstars life, that really leaves you feeling satisfied by the end.
It’s not perfect though. It’s two-hour long runtime, although never boring, feels as though it could’ve had 10-15 minutes shaved off just to keep things a little more fast-paced, lingering just a little to long on John’s addiction descent. And it leaves out a few aspects of Elton’s life, such as his eventual meeting with husband David Furnish that might’ve made a nice ending for the movie. But ultimately a Rocketman is heaps of fun. Fletcher embraces and embodies the extravagance of Elton John’s life and Taron Edgerton delivers his career best performance.
★ ★ ★ ★