Elton John, one of the most celebrated figures in the music industry, finally receives a biopic centred around the breakthrough years of his career. In Rocketman, Taron Egerton takes on the role of Elton as the story explores his upbringing and relatively bumpy rise to fame.
Much like how 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody was headlined by a phenomenal performance from Rami Malek, Rocketman makes the most of an incredible Taron Egerton performance that really enhances the film in every moment. Taron completely embodies Elton in terms of personality, mannerisms, accent, and appearance and doesn’t break character an any moment. There’s nothing about his performance that leaves room for improvement, he even pulls off the exciting and energetic musical sequences as well as delivering all of the lyrics himself. Will it get him an Oscar nomination? It’s possible and I wouldn’t be surprised, however, we’ll have to wait to see the buzz around award season.
Taron Egerton may have the spotlight for the majority of the movie, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for the supporting performances to shine. Jamie Bell, who has been relatively silent since 2015’s Fantastic Four, puts in a strong performance as Bernie Taupin and shines in his scenes alongside Taron. Bryce Dallas Howard is almost completely unrecognisable as Sheila, the mother of Elton and contributes to the emotion of the story and development of Elton’s character very well. Richard Madden takes on the role of John Reid and is gifted with a greater presence in the story than the character had in Bohemian Rhapsody. The ex-Game of Thrones actor plays the role really well and delves deep into really exploring the ambiguous intentions of the character.
Where the performances are strong and the definitive highlight of the film, I feel like the story is very average and didn’t grab me or hook me in as much as I hoped it would. There are some very emotional story beats that the film hits, and in those specific moments it’s engaging and has you invested in what Elton is going through. But it doesn’t take that emotional tension and stretch it over the duration of the film. This leads to the majority of the story between these key emotional moments coming across as quite bare and almost like a means to an end. The musical highs and positive moments in the story are great when they come, but the effects of them are short-lived.
Speaking of the music, Elton John’s incredible discography is integrated into the film and the story in a very clever manner. The music is almost guiding you through his life as oppose to his life guiding you through the music. It’s a nice element of the film that I feel did work. On top of that, from a creative standpoint it is shot really well the whole way through. Cinematographer George Richmond and director Dexter Fletcher have nailed a visual flair and stunning look, that in combination with the performances and music push the film beyond its okay story.
In the end, Rocketman doesn’t quite reach the levels I hoped it would, it’s definitely not bad but it’s also not great. Taron Egerton is the star of the show and his performance is why you go and see this. The story doesn’t perform and engage well enough to make this a strong and emotionally impactful film, but it’s still an average watch.