Tom Hardy stars as the Kray twins, Ronnie and Reggie. Two notorious brothers who ruled over London's crime in the 1960's.
Writer and director Brian Helgeland (42, A Knight Tale) infuses a sleek and violent style to this British mob movie yet his real triumph is the direction of the Kray twins. Making Ronnie and Reggie so different from each other yet portraying a bond between the two characters must have been difficult and he pulls it off quite well. There's also a darkly funny tone Helgeland uses, mainly incorporating the character of Ronnie to get some laughs. There are a couple of violent moments including a very graphic stabbing scene which added to truly violent aspect of the gangster lifestyle and I wish there was more of those type of moments.
There are two reasons why Legend works so well....and coincidentally both of those reasons are Tom Hardy. An actor who is just killing every role thrown his way in the past few years, from Warrior to Mad Max Fury Road and now Legend, Hardy is unstoppable. Every time Hardy's on screen the film works and every time he's not the film slows down, luckily for us there isn't a lot of screen time devoted to the side characters without Hardy in the scene. The fact that Legend grinds to a near halt every time Hardy is absent speaks volumes about how truly great he is in the film.
Hardy plays Ronnie and Reggie in two very completely different ways. Reggie is the more focused, cool headed gangster and Ronnie is a homosexual schizophrenic with a passion for violence and the gangster lifestyle, Ronnie is the character in which Hardy's more method approach to acting comes in. Both brothers have quite different goals, Reggie likes the lifestyle because of the money and respect but he wants to settle down with his new found love Francis played by Emily Browning (Sucker Punch). Ronnie wants to be at the forefront of the crime in London and eventually build a city in Nigeria. These are two radically different performances from Hardy and that's why the film impresses for the most part.
My biggest issue with Legend is that it has no sense of a narrative being pushed forward, a plot about opening a casino in London to make it the Vegas of Europe was brought up but it never became the focus, neither did any of the stories the Kray's were involved in. The film is more about the relationship between the twins which was lively, entertaining and well directed but Reggie's relationship with Francis got far too much screen time and should not have been the film's main focus. The film represents the Kray's as superstars, celebrities in London which is what they thought of themselves. If you're looking for a film that condemns the Kray's for their violent behavior and not so admirable lifestyle then you're in the wrong place as Legend kind of ends up glamorizing them for the most part.
Without Hardy in the two lead roles, Legend would simply be forgotten within a matter of weeks as it's a well done but pretty generic crime biopic, but it's Hardy's two performances which make Legend a film worth checking out.
Have you seen Legend? If so, let me know what you thought of the movie in the comments or on Twitter @JamesPorter97