by Joseph Saulnier
Have you heard of Legend? Not the movie from the mid-eighties, but the story of Ronnie and Reggie Kray (Tom Hardy, playing both brothers). Don’t know who they are, that’s okay, neither did I. But if you are across the pond and are reading this, you probably do. They Kray brothers are twins, and perhaps the most notorious gangsters in London history. Think John Dillinger, or Al Capone, of the UK.
Legend is a story of Reggie and Ronnie Kray’s rise to power as the top gangsters of the East End of London, and beyond. However, it is told from the point of view of Reggie’s wife, Francis Kray (Emily Browning). Though, the movie starts with her meeting Reggie for the first time, and it is really a love story of how she fell in love with a gangster that would not change his ways. There is nothing solely remarkable about the plot of the movie, but it is definitely captivating. I went into the film not knowing much about the Krays, but glad that I didn’t as it might have marred my experience.
Hardy, however, is remarkable in his portrayal of the Kray brothers. Each brother having his own distinctive personality, and even distinctive looks despite being identical twin brothers. Ronnie, as Francis describes him, is a one man mob trying to take control of London. The only catch is that he is paranoid schizophrenic and has trouble in social situations. This leads to a high distrust of people, and some intriguing scenes during the course of the film, especially interacting with Francis and his brother. Reggie is the intelligent, methodical brother who has bigger goals and aspirations than his brother, but his loyalty to his family holds him back. He has a deep loyalty, and even in the height of conflict would not take his anger, or disappointment, out on Ronnie. This did not sit well with Francis, who desperately wanted Reggie to go straight, but still agreed to marry him, even against the wishes of her mother.
There is no rise without a fall, but I won’t give too much insight into that as it will help the movie win you over if you know less. But Hardy and Browning were backed by a wonderful supporting cast including the likes of David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston, Taron Egerton, and Chazz Palminteri. Hardy himself brought some levity to the more serious scenes, though there were times where I was taken out of the movie as Ronnie Kray had a slight tendency to sound like Bane, Hardy’s previous role in the Dark Knight franchise.
If you enjoy British films such as Rock’n’Rolla, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, or Trainspotting, you will definitely enjoy Legend. In fact, Legend is the first movie rated 18+ in the UK to break the box office record set by Trainspotting in 1996. That says a lot about the movie. Will I add it to my collection upon home release? The jury is still out on that, but it definitely was a great film and worth seeing.
4 stars out of 5