In the 1960s, the Krays were notorious gangster brothers in England. They were often celebrated by the media and treated as stars by the public until their incarceration.
Legend covers their life from 1964 as the brothers (Tom Hardy) were battling a bloody turf war with the Richardson gang. In order to conquer, they expanded their empire by forming an alliance with the Vegas Mafia in the hopes of turning England into their playground.
In the midst of all this, Reggie marries rebellious Frances (Emily Browning) while his brother causes scandal by getting involved with politicians and other highly regarded public people.
Firstly, this is not what I would call a gangster movie. Legend is a story about the Krays and what happened “behind the scenes” in their lives. Their gangster activities are used as a subplot depicting elements which led to their imprisonment.
While the title alludes to it, this movie makes no attempts at glorifying their lives. First Reggie and Ronnie are extremely likeable. Reggie is portrayed as the suave, honourable, sane and handsome brother. Ronnie is depicted as the unintentionally hilarious, mentally ill, and completely unapologetic one. Allowing viewers to be drawn in and thinking that perhaps they aren’t that bad.
Then the film cleverly switches it up by introducing their vicious side, including their increased penchant for violence and death. The violence is quite brutal; but the director restrains from showing the full ordeal. There is a spectacular scene involving the brothers getting into a bloody brawl with each other which we do get to see in its entirety. Watching Tom Hardy beating up Tom Hardy without any obvious trace of special effects is a sight to see and a credit to the film makers.
To my surprise, the absolute hilarity of some scenes seemed to have been lost on the audience at the premiere. The director and writer consciously made the choice to add humour into the mix to have viewers simultaneously loving and hating the Krays. Scenes involving Ronnie with his insane plans and his relationship with his family should have you laughing out loud.
There are problems with understanding some of the dialogue. Between his low tone, mumbles and accent, you’ll find yourself frustratingly straining to hear what Ronnie says. Thankfully, it eases up in the second half.
The character of Frances isn’t fully explored but she is the core of the emotional aspect of the film. Emily Browning has the right aura and look to pull off such a character, she is really why viewers will end up falling for Reggie in the beginning.
Tom Hardy is absolutely brilliant. Even though he is playing twins, his transformation from Ronnie to Reggie is so exceptional you won’t even think about them being played by the same actor. If you weren’t a fan of Hardy before, you will be after watching Legend. He completely overshadows everyone else with his performance.
This isn’t an accurate portrayal of the Krays, so don’t be disappointed if parts were left out or overdramatised. This is simply a 2 hour film version of their last 5 years of freedom being played out for your entertainment.
Legend belongs on your must watch movies list. It may be flawed but it is certainly worth seeing.
I rate it 7 out of 10 stars.
Legend is in cinemas now.