Directed by: Brian Helgeland
Starring: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Taron Egerton and Christopher Eccleston
Genre: Biography, Crime, Thriller
In a Nutshell: Legend is the story of notorious gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray and how they terrorized London during the 1950s and 1960s.
My thoughts: Coming hot-on-the-heels off the success of Mad Max: Fury Road (arguably this summer’s best movie), Tom Hardy takes on the dual role of the infamous gangster brothers from London. This isn’t the first time the infamous siblings have received the big screen treatment, with The Krays (1990) starring real life brothers Gary and Martin Kemp as Legend’s predecessor.
Front and center is Hardy, who gives a riveting performance as both brothers. The danger of using the same actor for both roles was not a technical one but rather the fact that it was potentially a distraction for one person play two separate people. This is thankfully not the case as Hardy delivers a masterful and unique performance as both Ronnie and Reggie respectively. Reggie is the more balanced suave good looking brother, while Ronnie is the unhinged sibling with an itchy trigger finger and hot temper. They truly are very different people and I never felt during the film that the same actor was playing both roles.
Couple Hardy’s acting abilities with superb split screen CGI and you had two living breathing brothers. A huge credit must go to Hardy who is clearly turning out to be perhaps the actor of his generation.
Tom Hardy is well supported by Emily Browning as Frances Shea, Reggie’s love interest and story’s narrator. Browning gives a great performance and proves that she is one to watch. The cast also features well known names such as Christopher Eccleston, Taron Egerton, David Thewlis, Tara Fitzgerald and Chazz Palminteri.
Legend shares the gritty atmosphere and swagger of 1960’s London, with the wonderfully well realized East End that’s extremely well shot and lit. Kudos to Dick Pope the cinematographer and set decorator Crispian Sallis. Given its 18 rating here in the UK, I was expecting Legend subject matter to be as violent and foul-mouthed as its subject matter could offer – which it is. However, I wasn’t expecting just how funny it turned out to be. The lionshare of the funniest moments were supplied by Ronnie. The movie in general actually, despite it’s certificate, never had a totally serious edge to it which was good.
Legend however is not without it’s issues and it’s these issues that I’m afraid to say hold it back from greatness and from the movie I wished it had been. Legend is engaging and well acted but structurally the movie is a bit of a mess. Also, despite Hardy’s stunning central turn and a beautifully recreated world it can at times drag quite a bit. The pacing is a out of whack and as a result the movie feels longer than it’s 2 hours 11 minutes.
The film would’ve definitely benefited by having 10-15 shaved off it’s running time. Legend already has a great cast, but save Hardy himself, they aren’t used to benefit the film, especially Browning and Eccleston’s character (the policeman on the Kray’s tail). These were pivotal people in the history of the Krays, but here, they’re unfortunately brushed over and severely underwritten.
Legend will do nothing to damage the rising star of Tom Hardy’s ever prosperous career. Based on his efforts alone, the movie deserves a better rating but his stellar dual turn is held back by a lackluster story that is wrapped up in a movie whose framework is far from clear. Offering us a frustrating meandering approach and one that feels at times very surface level rather than a more dynamic deeper look into the lives of these infamous siblings. But Hardy is a delight and the movie is funnier than expected and looks great, so I would still recommend you check this one out.
My next review will be….
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials 3D starring Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario and Thomas Brodie-Sangster