Legend starring Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Colin Morgan, Taron Egerton, David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston.

Image Source: 'IMDb.com'

Movie: Legend

Production Companies: Cross Creek Pictures, StudioCanal, Working Title Films, Anton Capital Entertainment

Director: Brian Helgeland

Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Chris Clark, Quentin Curtis, Brian Oliver

Scriptwriter: Brian Helgeland

Main Cast: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Colin Morgan, Taron Egerton, David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston

Release Date: September 9th 2015

Running Time: 131 minutes

Certificate: 18

Introduction

Well, this one isn’t going to be for everyone. Brian Helgeland’s 2015 biopic on the Kray Twins certainly split opinions. On a very different note, could this have been Tom Hardy’s audition for James Bond? Probably not but Hardy’s performance as both of the Kray’s, Reggie and Ronnie, more than carried Legend to being an alright film. So, without further ado here is my review of the film.

Synopsis

During the 1960s, Reggie Kray (Hardy) is a former boxer who has become an important part of the London criminal underworld. When his twin brother Ronnie (Hardy) is locked up in a psychiatric hospital for paranoid schizophrenia, Reggie uses intimidation and violence to get him released early. Together they unite in their desire to control London’s underworld and start by out-muscling control of a London nightclub.

Reggie meets Frances

Soon after, Reggie enters into a relationship with his driver’s sister, Frances (Browning), who he eventually marries. When he is imprisoned for a previous crime, she makes him promise he will leave his life of crime behind. Wonder how that turned out… Anyway, in Reggie’s absence the club has massively stagnated due to Ron’s instability and anger driving customers away. Despite having an all out fist fight on the first night when Reggie gets out of prison, the brothers partially patch their relationship.

Making a deal with the American Mafia

The brothers are then approached by Angelo Bruno of the Philadelphia Crime Family, on behalf of Mayer Lensky and the American Mafia, who wants them to engage in a crime syndicate deal. Bruno then agrees to a 50/50 split of London’s underground gambling profits in exchange for local protections from the brothers. While this initially proves lucrative for the Krays, Ronnie’s barely concealed volatility explodes when he kills an associate of the Torture Gang, George Cornell, who were rivals of the Krays. Due to this, Scotland Yard opens a full investigation into the Krays.

Reggie and Frances’s split

Reggie’s marriage to Frances starts breaking down when, unable to bear his false promises to reform, she starts taking prescription drugs illegally. After he beats and rapes her, she leaves him. However, when Reggie approaches her about reconciliation she seems to agree but soon after she kills herself with a drug overdose, leaving Reggie guilt stricken.

The Murder of Jack McVitie/ The Law catches up to the Krays

This doesn’t stop the Kray’s criminal activities as Ron pays Jack McVitie to kill Leslie Payne (Thewlis), who controls the business side of their operation and is a close associate of Reggie. However, McVitie only wounds Payne before turning the Krays into Detective Superintendent Leonard Read (Eccleston). Furious at this, Reggie brutally stabs McVitie to death at one of Ronnie’s parties. Payne’s testimony sees Ronnie charged and arrested with the murder of George Cornell. The final scene sees a police squad breaking down the door to Reggie’s flat to arrest him.

The closing captions indicate both brothers receiving criminal convictions. They died 5 years apart, Ronnie in 1995 and Reggie in 2000.

Analysis  

Tom Hardy’s Performance in Legend

To begin my analysis of Legend, I’m going to discuss the elephant in the room: Tom Hardy’s performance as both of the Krays. As mentioned above in the introduction, Hardy’s performance as the infamous gangster brothers carries Legend to being a perfectly fine film. Evidence of this is in the Blind Beggar pub fight scene. When I was mentioning this being a potential early Bond audition, this scene is great evidence.

This is due to Hardy demonstrating the sheer versatility of his range. This is due to the two very different personalities of Ronnie and Reggie. While Reggie is using brass knuckles and being more ‘reserved’, Ronnie is using a pair of hammers to bludgeon people. Also, Reggie sets up Ronnie’s arrival with the line ‘a paranoid schizophrenic walks into a bar’. This just adds more of that swagger and suaveness that Bond needs. Albeit with a lot less violence….

Cinematography in Legend

Continuing my analysis of Legend, I’m going to discuss the cinematography of the film. Yet again, I’m going to refer to the Blind Beggar pub fight scene. While it may not be as slick as another film’s fight scene, Kingsman: The Secret Service to be specific, the Blind Beggar fight scene is still very well put together. What are some examples? Well, firstly Ronnie’s re-entrance into the pub after leaving is shot using a POV shot from Reggie’s perspective.

Also, the frequent use of over-the-shoulder shots add to the fear that the opposing gang might feel after they realise Ronnie is back in the pub. In addition, the change of shot to an overhead angle showing where both Ronnie and Reggie are in relation to each other is a neat little detail. In addition, the use of over-the-shoulder shots and POV shots serve another purpose: bringing the audience into the scene and making them feel like they are in the pub with the Krays. God, I love Tom Hardy.

The Accuracy of the Krays in Legend

To conclude my analysis of Legend, I’m going to discuss how accurately the film portrays the Krays and their activities. Now, close associates of the Krays who have watched Legend have praised the film, especially for Hardy’s powerhouse portrayal of the brothers, but point out one key issue with the film. And, it’s surprisingly not what you think it is going to… unless you know a lot about the Krays.

The one thing that associates of the Krays took issue with was the hard to watch scene where Reggie hits Frances. Now why would they take issue with this scene? Well because the Krays showed the utmost respect to women. This is also an interesting look into the gangster genre where often female characters are treated appalling so Legend offers a nice comparison.

Summary

To conclude, Legend is a pretty good film which is enhanced by a fantastic cast and a double powerhouse performance from Tom Hardy as the Krays. Also, the trailer used Imagine Dragons which is pretty great.

Overall Rating: 7/10 – Respectable

Target Audience: 18+

Content Warning: Strong Violence, Strong Language, Mild Sexual Material, Mild Drugs References 

Recommendation: Yes