Dir. Brian Helgeland
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)
Read the newspaper version of Matt's review: Luton News
“They were twins. Reggie was a gangster prince of East End, Ronnie Kray was a one-man mob.”
Welcome back to London in the 1960s, where everyone had a story about the Krays – the larger than life, charismatic but deadly notorious criminals.
Director Brian Helgeland (who wrote the excellently brutal Man On Fire) goes about telling the Kray twin legend with gusto and pulls no punches.
"this isn't going to end well for someone"
Based on the biography ‘The Profession Of Violence: The Rise And Fall Of The Kray Twins’, Legend tells the bruising tale of the boys – flitting over their starting out in the local boxing club and jumping into the action from the ‘60s when they were well onto the path of their seemingly unstoppable ascent to become the most fear gangland bosses London had ever seen.
Tom Hardy who plays both Ronnie and Reggie is just incredible in the dual lead roles, capturing the easy charm / scary violence that was the core characteristics which set the brothers apart. The CGI used to allow Hardy to interact with himself is incredible, there is even a crunching Reg vs Ron fight that is flawlessly choreographed and shot.
We get a voice over from Reggie’s sweetheart Frances Shea (Emily 'Sucker Punch' Browning) which helps show just how captivating the sway of the Krays was – and allows the viewer to witness the degenerating corruption of the human spirit that violently maintained power instils. Browning is fine but can’t help but feel like a weak link up against Hardy’s astonishing powerhouse performances.
The vicarious thrill that arrives in the wake of the immaculately attired Krays is like playing a 1960’s version of Grand Theft Auto as high-octane robberies, beatings, banter, murder and torture go hand in hand with flash cars and luxury lifestyle… There is also a surprising amount of dark humour flowing through the script which adds to the high overall entertainment value of the film.
Legend can’t help but glamorise the bad guy clique but manages to keep the threat and danger levels high and then also wades in with a heavy duty ‘crime doesn’t really pay in the long term’ message.
There are some nice supporting roles too - Taron 'Kingsman' Egerton catches the eye as Teddy - Ron's constant 'assistant' and Christopher Eccleston plays the straight cop on the trail of the Krays with steely conviction.
"they're behind you!"
Sharper and more fun than The Krays from 1990, although with a title like Legend it is probably a fair bit less accurate - this is a potentially iconic crime classic.
The Kray twins would very much like to make your re-acquaintance at the nearest cinema, don’t keep them waiting…
Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:
(4 - No sign of Tom Cruise in tights or any unicorns...)
Awesomeness öööö – strong biopic action
Laughs ööö – Brutal fun and criminally enjoyable
Horror ööö – nasty brief violence in places
Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - family can undo you