(I) (2015)

Critic Reviews



Based on 31 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
In what is surely his finest hour, Tom Hardy plays both brothers. Much more than a gimmick, it's like watching one side of a mind wrestle with the other - literally, in one explosive, fun-to-unpick fight scene.
It's flawed, yes - Frances is frustratingly underwritten, her psychological fault lines spoken of but never shown - but it's also swaggeringly cinematic. And it has Tom Hardy vs Tom Hardy.
Helgeland's savvy new take on this well-known story proves that crime can pay, while Hardy is astonishing and magnetic in two truly towering performances.
For all Hardy's expressive detail and physical creativity, Helgeland's chewy, incident-packed script offers little insight into what made either of these contrasting psychopaths tick, or finally explode.
It's easy to buy Hardy's dual performance, and it doesn't get in the way of the film - although some actor-ly exuberance in the delivery of Ronnie can sound an off-note, with Hardy using some facial prosthetics around the jaw line which aren't particularly subtle.
While he arguably fails to rein in his leading man (or half of him), screenwriter-turned-director Helgeland has a light touch, leavening the ultra-violence - and there are gory scenes - with a flair for absurdity.
Legend crucially lacks almost any sense of gravitas, although the bold and brash approach does keep you entertained.
It's worth the price of admission just to see Hardy's Reggie performance, which is up among his best work. Still, the story could have perhaps used a more inspired hand at the helm.
This ungainly portrait strikes a lot of poses, as if inviting the viewer to admire its impressive cast list, fine period detailing, "cheeky" British humor, and insouciant attitude towards violence. But none of it disguises the fact that the film is also tonally incoherent, vacuous and structurally a bleedin' mess.
It's a disappointingly shallow take on a fascinating period of time and leaves us sorely uninformed, as if we've skim-read a pamphlet. The legend might live on but Legend certainly won't.

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