Legend

"Good"

Legend Review


Written and directed with a rakish swagger, and featuring two full-on performances from Tom Hardy, this true London gangster drama is hugely entertaining, even if it feels undercooked. Aside from that generic title, the film basically has no plot at all, and it strips real-life people of their complexity. It's as if the filmmakers were afraid to challenge the audience in any way. But the edgy mix of comedy and violence is riveting.

The events recounted took place over about two years in the early 1960s, although the film's anecdotal structure makes it feel more like a decade. As it begins, the fearsome young Kray brothers (both played by Tom Hardy) are consolidating their gangland grip on East London and expanding around the city, with their next target being South London boss Charlie Richardson (Paul Bettany). Reggie Kray is the tough-minded businessman, while identical twin Ronnie is a terrifying thug who happens to be openly gay at a time when being so was illegal. As they blatantly manipulate the rule of law, a Scotland Yard inspector (Christopher Ecclestone) is desperately looking for a way to take them down. Meanwhile, Reggie is romancing the 16-year-old Frances (Emily Browning), much to the annoyance of her imperious mother (Tara Fitzgerald).

The tumultuous relationship between Reggie and Frances is the only thing that adds a sense of narrative momentum to the film. Otherwise, it's a series of set-pieces that take a darkly humorous approach to family clashes and criminal violence. Writer-director Brian Helgeland infuses even the grisliest brutality with an amusing smirk, which makes the movie much more engaging than expected. And Hardy storms through the film with real charisma in both roles, as the steely, magnetic Reggie and the more unstable, fearsome Ronnie. Both performances are scene-stealing, nicely conveying how these men managed to hold the entire city in their grip, even though they were only in their early 30s at the time.

So it's a bit frustrating that Helgeland has made all of the characters so simplistic. The Krays themselves are reduced to just one or two personality features, and it's even worse for everyone else in the story. Browning has a few strong moments, but is basically just asked to be doe-eyed. Eccleston is little more than annoyed bluster. And so on. As a result, the tiny side roles continually steal focus because they hint at larger lives off-screen (Taron Egerton is a standout as one of Ronnie's teddy boys). Even so, every scene is staged with so much skill and energy that the film is never dull. It holds us in its grip like the Kray brothers' menacing stares. And it makes us want to know the real story.

Watch the trailer for Legend here:

Rich Cline



Legend

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 89 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 9th September 2015

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: Working Title Films, Cross Creek Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
Fresh: 11 Rotten: 11

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , , Quentin Curtis, Brian Oliver

Starring: as Ronald Kray / Reginald Kray, as Frances Shea, as Teddy Smith, as Leslie Payne, as Frankie / Franck Shea, as Leonard 'Nipper' Read, Paul Anderson as Albert Donoghue, as Angelo Bruno, as David Bailey, Wood Jane as Violet Kray, Jack Oliphant as Young Reggie Kray, William Oliphant as Young Ronnie Kray, Abigail Halley as Young Violet Kray, Millie Brady as Joan Collins, Charley Palmer Rothwell as Leslie Holt, Bob Cryer as Charles Kray Snr, Samantha Pearl as Shirley Bassey, Martin McCreadie as Eddie Richardson

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