By Adam Ray Palmer
I caught, like many I assume, Legend once again at the weekend on Channel 4 – no this is not an ad! I thought I would cover this film with a short review as I never did for its original cinema release.
Written and directed by Brian Helgeland; Legend stars Tom Hardy as Ronnie Kray, Tom Hardy as Reggie Kray and even the tea lady was played by Tom Hardy…
Back in the swinging 60s, London’s East End was run by two things. By things, I mean two incredibly powerful yet charming brutes in the form of the Krays. Twin brothers Ronnie and Reggie Kray (both played by Tom Hardy) were vicious gangsters who loved a good scrap and ruled through intimidation and brutal violence.
Legend charts their incredible, and at times jaw-dropping, rise to power as they eliminate anything that stood in their way. We see them mix with the likes of wealth and celebrity, but also the American Mafia. Reggie's girlfriend/wife, Frances (Emily Browning), narrates the tale, and delivers a chilling recount.
The strength of this movie thoroughly lies at the feet of Tom Hardy. He brings to life two different-yet-so-similar characters in such an authentic way, which has been confirmed by old friends of the Krays, and even at times making you forget he’s in fact playing both. I think Emily Browning also deserves an enormous amount of credit for her performance as Frances. She starts out as an eager yet naïve, young women who gets mixed up in a dark and tormenting world that leaves her broken. I find her captivating whenever she graces the screen.
We must also give praise to the supporting cast who allow the lead actors, (Hardy x2 and Browning) to flourish in their roles. They hold back and never overshadow the story. We must realise that yes this is about the Krays, but it’s so much more than that. We are looking at the relationships between the two brothers but also with their sexual backgrounds in the midst. I think Legend lends itself to more of a Reggie’s story and how Frances and Ronnie fitted in his life.
It’s a fascinating watch with how the brothers’ crazy rise to power is, effectively, their inevitable downfall, and they both realise it. The more money, fame and dominant; the more value there was to bring them down. Overall, Legend certainly ticks the boxes it was aiming for. A great take on a Krays biopic, impeccable performances from the leading cast and a script that has plenty of kick to it. It’s a must-see.
Cineroom’s rating: 4 stars
Legend is now out on DVD and currently on 4OD for a limited time – certificate 15