Legend (2015)

6.7/10 by 1127 users

Suave, charming and volatile, Reggie Kray and his unstable twin brother Ronnie start to leave their mark on the London underworld in the 1960s. Using violence to get what they want, the siblings orchestrate robberies and murders while running nightclubs and protection rackets. With police Detective Leonard "Nipper" Read hot on their heels, the brothers continue their rapid rise to power and achieve tabloid notoriety.

Release Date:September 9, 2015
MPAA Rating:18
Genres:Crime, Thriller
Production Company:Working Title Films, Cross Creek Pictures, Anton Capital Entertainment (ACE)
Production Countries:United Kingdom, United States of America, France
Director:Brian Helgeland, Beverly Winston
Casts:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Plot Keywords:gangster, biography, based on true story, twins
  • A Succession of Entertaining Scenes
    September 14, 2015

    If asked what this film is "about", you can respond that it's about the Krays - and you can't be much more specific than that.

    The possibilities were immense - it could have been about the politics of the Kray empire, or a character study into what made the Krays tick, or (probably what the film should have gone for) a focused story of the Krays' downfall. Instead, the film lacks any real coherence or a strong narrative arc; it essentially consists of a series of scenes which could have been played in almost any order.

    Now, a film which deals with real events always has to strike a balance between authenticity and arranging events into a satisfyingly cohesive narrative. This can be a problem for films striving for strict accuracy, but Legend's larger-than-life, often tongue-in-cheek approach left plenty of room for fashioning a narrative. Yet the closest Legend comes to telling a story concerns the relationship between Reggie and his wife Frances. This was an odd choice of perspective (Frances functions as the movie's narrator), not least because the film doesn't really explore the relationship in any real depth - for instance, five minutes into their first date, Reggie and Frances kiss and that's all that's done to establish that they're "in love". Although Emily Browning performed well enough as Frances, the writing for her character was so bad it was jarring - she speaks in horrible movie clich├ęs, in a way that no-one ever speaks in real life.

    The writing is otherwise excellent, and brought to life by fantastic performances from the whole cast - but especially, of course, Tom Hardy. His portrait of Ronnie, though it constantly borders on being absolutely preposterous, is impossible to tear your eyes away from. In every scene, I was waiting for the camera to cut back to Ronnie so I could savour the performance.

    Does Hardy's double-performance redeem the film's shortcomings? Well, yes - enough for me to say that this film is worth a watch. You will be entertained, even if the film drags towards the end.

    But ultimately, Hardy's incredible performance is wasted on a film which failed to tell a story. Legend provides no sort of insight into Reggie and Frances' relationship, or the downfall of the Krays, or the workings of their empire, or, most crucially of all, into the motivations and characters of the Krays.