Starring Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston, Taron Egerton
Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Locke) is one of the most stunning, eager, and impressive actors in film today. In 2015, the English actor delivered four films, including summer tent pole Mad Max: Fury Road. Hardy will once again flirt with awards season as supporting actor in The Revenant. Half of the films Hardy has starred in this year (Child 44) have been forgettable and unfortunately Legend is in that half. The script and poor direction does not work at the same level of Hardy’s fascinating duel performances. Legend ends up like a “Misadventures of The Kray Bros…” more than a solid narrative that explores the rise and fall of London’s most eccentric gangsters.
Detective Nipper Reed (Eccleston) notes that citizens on the East side of town won’t talk to police but they will kiss a gangster. That’s the world Ronnie & Reggie Kray (Hardy) created in the late 1960’s. To the public Reggie was a proud club owner, but behind the scenes he and twin Ronnie, very open and honest about his sexuality, keep the cash and blood flowing to anyone that crosses their way of business. Reggie was the good looking, rational one and for a time it seemed like his feelings for fiancée Frances (Browning) might give him reason to leave the lifestyle. Ronnie however was not the twin people wanted to do business with, quick to anger, impulsive and extremely violent, only death or jail could separate the twins.
As a Hardy fan you are obligated to see this film despite everything else, his performance as Reggie is his most suave and charismatic to date.
Hardy’s performance is by far the only element to keep you entertained. The film itself never gives the audience a good idea of who these twins were, feeding us little bit scenes that never add up to whole legend. The script is muddled with sup-plots that never tie into the big picture and with all the various characters and mobster names it’s as if the filmmakers are intentionally trying to water down Hardy’s energized double whammy performance. You can’t help but think about the other time Hardy played an eccentric prisoner, Bronson (2009), one of his first films (and still greatest performance). The irony is that Charles Bronson and the Kray brothers knew each other.
In the hands of a better director (say maybe Nicholas Winding Refn who directed Bronson), Legend could have been organized into a fascinating crime film, all the ingredients are there but Brian Helgeland (Paycheck, A Knights Tale) cannot seem to get everything in order. Frances narrates the story, which is another element that doesn’t fit or make cohesive sense, you will find out why it’s divisive near the end of the picture. As a Hardy fan you are obligated to see this film despite everything else, his performance as Reggie is his most suave and charismatic to date. There is never an issue telling the two twins apart, as the hair and makeup department does an excellent job distinguishing between the two.
Too bad the films direction and script can’t rise to the level of Hardy’s performances.