Featuring an exemplary performance by Tom Hardy in a dual role, Brian Helgeland’s Legend is compelling viewing.
In East London of the 1960s, the Kray twins are building a reputation as notorious gangsters. Ronnie and Reggie are relentless in the aim of building an empire across the city…
Based on John Pearson’s book, Legend functions as a good introduction to the history of the Kray twins, as well as a decent film in its own right. The strongest elements of the film are a great central performance and good writing. The main characters are well drawn in Legend. The narration from the point of view of Frances is a nice touch; the character guides the audience as an outsider who gets to know the protagonists better as the film progresses.
The story charts the rise of the Kray twins to the most pivotal part of their lives. Legend concentrates on a particular, significant period, rather than functioning as a biopic. Writer-director Helgeland successfully informs viewers of the background with succinct exposition. Many viewers will know how the story goes, but the film is more about the characters than offering a history lesson.
Crime, drama and action are genres expected to be featured in a film such as Legend, yet the film also features a good deal of humour. Helgeland has a flare for depicting the absurdity of certain situations in a way that will no doubt generate laughs. Violence in the film is sparse; heightening the effect when depicting in graphic detail. Art direction and styling are great, with the film film feeling very much of the era it is set.
Tom Hardy offers a fantastic performance playing both Ronnie and Reggie Kray. His performance is always convincing. Emily Browning also gives a decent performance as Frances.
Legend does not glamourise the crime it depicts, and is adept at showing the ugly side to such a lifestyle. Moreover, and more importantly, the film delivers flawed but interesting characters in a very watchable way.