Tom Hardy stars as Ronald and Reginald Kray, the infamous British gangsters who set the underworld alight in the 50s and 60s due to their merciless and psychotic reputation ranging from East to West London. Legend is orientated around the perspective of Reggie Kray as he tries to control his younger, less stable brother, Ronnie, in their rise to British gangster stardom.
Audiences can be sure to immerse themselves into the gritty East end environment from the start of the film as Hardy performs in one of his best roles to date to play both Ronnie and Reggie to a tee. His performance is perfection as he effectively displays a chaotic, unstable and brutal nature with compassion.
The compassion comes in the form of his wife Frances (Emily Browning) who gives a continual narration of both Reggie and Ronnie throughout the film as we explore the inner workings of two mad men. A certain comedic element is present throughout the film as Reggie charms Frances as they both fall in love, and when we quickly discover Ronnie’s homosexual tendencies – which is in complete contrast to his violent nature.
Reggie is the good looking, composed and measured twin in comparison to Ronnie who is clinically insane. Legend depicts the rise of the Kray twins, with a particular emphasis on how much of a loose cannon Ronnie was, and how Reggie struggles to tame his younger brother. We follow the infamous twins through their key moments in history such as gang war with their rivals The Richardsons, their love interests, conflicts with police, dealings with the American mafia and expansion of their nightclub portfolio.
Brian Helgeland’s focus constantly shifts from making the twins loveable rogues to sickeningly dangerous animals with violent scenes aplenty, which is in keeping with the Kray twins’ reputation of charming celebrities.
This isn’t a stick-to-the-script biopic. Helgeland intentionally shows the audience additional scenes which gives a deeper understanding into the make-up of the two gangsters, to the point where occasionally you develop a depth and rationale for Ronnie and Reggie’s actions.
Couple a Goodfellas-esque tour of East London boozers with Cockney rhyming slang and Helgeland’s vision is accomplished in the hands of Hardy, who continues to surpass every expectation in his acting roles. Legend is a must watch.