An impressive double performance from Tom Hardy dominates a fairly conventional crime biopic.
The world may not have needed another film about The Krays but writer/director Brian Helgeland makes a persuasive enough case for further building up the dubious legacy of the second rate celebrity gangsters. Impressive period trappings and excellent work from cinematographer Dick Pope ensures it never looks anything less than glorious. What's missing perhaps is a sense of family and community, essential when dealing with The Krays I would have thought. Their immediate family, especially the mother, is oddly absent for much of the film (and completely absent in the case of older brother Charlie).
Instead the focus is on Reggie's wife Frances. Which would be okay if the character wasn't a little underwritten. Emily Browning is fine but never really gets across her fragility, despite other characters constantly remarking on it. Which makes her final fate a little unconvincing. Plus the decision to use a real life tragic figure to deliver a cheap plot twist seems a little unpalatable.

Of course this is all about Tom Hardy though and he doesn't disappoint. Two completely distinctive performances that are fascinating to watch. His Ronnie may be the showier one and Hardy does have a tendency to overplay the quirks and tics a little but it's still hard to take your eyes off him when he's on screen. Reggie proves to be the more compelling of the two however, despite, or perhaps because of, the fact he's the more 'normal' of the two. Either way he keeps the film watchable throughout.

Personally I think Peter Medak/Philip Ridley's take on the twins back in the 90s remains the better film. Its focus on all the women surrounding the brothers made it more interesting. The Kemp brothers may have been less impressive as actors but that film belonged to Billie Whitelaw.
This film belongs to Tom Hardy and is still essential viewing as a result.

Looking at the cast list on IMDB afterwards it looks like quite a bit may have been cut out. Characters with names that suggest a trip to Lagos, a flashback to the Twins as kids and an appearance by David Bailey (played by Aneurin Barnard).


Review by Kevin Knapman


Legend  (18)

2h 11m

Director: Brian Helgeland

Starring: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston, Taron Egerton

UK Release: Wednesday 9th September 2015

www.legendthemovie.com