Legend Review: Things are about to get “Kray Kray”

Director: Brian Helgeland 
Starring: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston 

The Overview

Tom Hardy stars in a double role as twin gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray, two of the most notorious criminals in British history. In the 1960s, the Krays ruled the East End of London with their organised crime empire. Legend tells the story of the Krays at the height of their fame, but also focuses on the relationship between Reggie and his wife Frances (Browning). 

The Good

I’m sure lots will be said about Tom Hardy’s performance in this film, but it really does deserve all the praise it is getting. To be able to play both Ronnie and Reggie, and give each their own distinctive character and personality trait, is staggering. Any actor when playing a single role would spend a lot of time working out their characters and how to play them; Hardy is able to switch between the two with such ease, that halfway through the film you have to remind yourself that it is the same actor. The technical work to achieve this has to be commended as well; the fight scene between the two brothers is particularly clever. The alternating point of view shots put you right in the middle of the action as you see the fight through both Ronnie and Reggie’s eyes.

All of the action scenes are great; the pub brawl between the Krays and a rival criminal gang is particularly excellent. The film was slightly bloodier than I expected, but as there aren’t too many action scenes, I guess they had to make the ones it does have as brutal as possible.

Whilst Hardy’s performance is the standout, Emily Browning is also excellent as Reggie’s estranged wife, Frances, who narrates the film. Her performance is honest and utterly heartbreaking in places, and she also nails the East End accent; Browning is Australian, but you wouldn’t know it!

The storyline flows along nicely despite it’s slightly overlong runtime, and I like that there is little introduction to the Krays. The filmmakers assume we know enough about them already (most people probably do) and jumps straight into the story, which saves a lot of unnecessary exposition.  

The Bad

Tonally, the film is a little bit up and down. It is very funny in places, but also very dark and gritty. As the initial comedic tone is set, when the events do take a darker and more serious turn, I think some people in the audience weren’t sure whether they should be laughing or not. The Krays were terrible people after all, but I think the film has painted them in a slightly better light than perhaps it should. I think this is partly down to the portrayal of Ronnie. His face, mannerisms and voice all generated a lot of laughter, but he is in reality an unhinged psychopath who killed people, and I think a lot of people would probably forget about that whilst watching this.

The overall look of this film could have been improved. For starters the CGI was terrible; most notably in the aerial shots of London which looked incredibly fake. It was also a little bit too shiny and slick looking in places as well; particularly for a film which is actually pretty dark. It could have done with looking a little bit grittier, which would have added more realism and suited the tone of the film more. 

I rarely pick up on a film’s soundtrack unless it is either amazing or terrible. Unfortunately Legend errs on the side of terrible. The instrumental score is completely overbearing in places and doesn’t need to be as prevalent as it is. However the 1960s soundtrack is excellent; there should have been more of that!

The Verdict

I saw this movie and you should too. It is by no means perfect, but Hardy’s incredible performance, the action scenes and the interesting storyline make it a very watchable film. Definitely worth a watch! 

Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a terribly misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to share as well. 

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