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Tom Hardy and Tom Hardy star in Legend

REVIEW: Legend

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Legend is the true story of twin brother gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray, notorious criminals who built an organised crime empire in the East End of London during the 1960s.

Directed by Brian Helgeland, this biopic sees Tom Hardy play both brothers in a dual role, and brilliant too, from the psychotic Ronnie to the soulful Reggie. It’s these performances that kept me entertained. Ronnie’s disappointment just before the bar fight, his brutal honesty about his sexuality, and the two brothers fighting each other in the nightclub, these moments had me laughing out loud, but in later scenes we’re reminded these guys weren’t exactly heroes.

The film starts with the brothers as established London gangsters, no mention of their childhood, the boxing years and very little of their much loved mother Violet. Other characters are caught up in their mad world. Emily Browning plays Reggie’s naive and tragic wife Frances, who provides an emotional core to the story yet somehow delivers a two dimensional performance. Christopher Eccleston plays the copper Nipper Reed, dour faced but determined to bring in the brothers, although his screen time is short, much like Paul Bethany as Charlie Richardson. Taron Egerton plays Teddy Smith, Ronnie’s boy friend and henchman with a hint of menace.

My main complaint is the structure of the narrative, uneven mostly and the tone shifts from comedic to violent and dark quite often, contributing to the film feeling as long as it’s run time of over 2 hours. The director decided to checklist events like politicians covering up gay orgies and the more personal scene of spouse abuse, without much time spent on the reasons or consequences. The voiceover by Frances is at times unwanted and not interesting either. Even after her death, it continues for some odd reason.

With the exception of the original theme music featured, the soundtrack is predictable and out of place with popular 60s American hits played to the brutality of British gangster life. But visually everything looks amazing: the lavish clubs, the homely pubs, the suits and dresses, all captured within the great cinematography by Dick Pope.

The world of the Krays already has an identity but it seems this version of the story is packaged and marketed to an international audience who may be unaware of the gruesome twosome. Although more Guy Ritchie in execution than a Martin Scorsese as i hoped, Legend is worth the time, just don’t expect a classic.


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