In the 1950’s and ‘60’s Ronnie and Reggie Kray ruled the London underworld with an iron fist. Their ‘legendary’ status turned them into anti-heroes. Even today their fame has spread via books, TV and film. Some may recall the 1990 movie featuring the Kemp brothers from Spandau Ballet as the dastardly duo. ‘Legend’ covers much of the same ground without impact. Whilst competently made, it fails to have the gritty fire such a biopic on tough criminals should.
Reggie and Ronnie Kray (Tom Hardy) have turned into one of London’s feared gangsters. Owning several establishments by which to fund their illegal activities, all seems to go well. All soon comes unstuck due to Ronnie’s unstable nature. A loose cannon of the highest order, nothing stops his deranged behaviour. When Reggie meets local girl Frances (Emily Browning) matters become worse, much to the delight of pursuing detective Leonard Read (Christopher Eccleston).
‘Legend’ isn’t a bad movie but it isn’t a memorable one either. Much of the fault lies in its direction. Under the gaze of director Brian Helgeland, ‘Legend’ frequently stops at a standstill. Whilst occasional flashes of raw energy are seen, ‘Legend’ plays almost like a romantic film as it mostly concentrates on Reggie’s relationship with Frances. When focussing on his bond with Ronnie, ‘Legend’ becomes more interesting, as is the addictive allure of crime which Reggie can’t escape.
Everything would have failed had it not been for Hardy’s performance. Whilst the Krays are depicted more as caricatures than authentic people, Hardy provides much fiery flair. He successfully ensures his dual roles are seen as separate entities. This goes in some way to compensate for the somewhat fanciful nature of the script with the mix of humour and drama not working. The production design and soundtrack as suitably catchy but ‘Legend’ is a generally hit and miss affair.
Crime may well never pay but it ensures fame, or infamy, will endure. Countless hours of films have been spent examining the Krays over the decades although ‘Legend’ is a more forgettable effort despite the talents of its strong lead.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 5
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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