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The story of the Kray twins is a fascinating one, full of violence and
deceit. In Legend, that story isn't really taken to its full potential,
thanks to an unfortunately clunky structure despite brilliant
performances, good humour and violence.
Let's start with the best part of this film, that is Tom Hardy's performances as Ronnie and Reggie Kray. The amazing special effects make the dual show possible, but within minutes of the start here, you completely forget that these two characters are played by the same man.
Hardy completely disappears into both men, with an unnerving but humorous turn as the psychotic Ronnie, and a more understated but powerful performance as Reggie, and that really deserves some praise.
What's more is that this film does make use of the very violent nature of the history very well. As bloody as it is foul-mouthed, this isn't a pleasant film to watch, but the level of violence does leave an impression with regards to the Krays' crimes, making it seem all the more real, and all the more frightening.
The big issue I have with this film, however, is that it's not an exhilarating watch. Historically interesting it may be, but at over two hours long, it's not something that will consistently entice you throughout.
There are side plots that aren't picked up on enough, some characters don't get the development they really deserve based on the size of their role, and the plot takes a really long time to get going.
The disappointing thing is that Legend isn't a bad film in any way, nor is it boring, but it gives you a sense of growing importance and tension towards a hopefully climactic end, but it never comes as you want it to.
Legend is a gripping movie, there's no doubt about it. Seeing Tom Hardy
on screen, whether he's playing Reggie, Ronald, or both, is absolutely
captivating. He owns the roles, and despite their identical looks you
feel that they're completely different people because of how well Hardy
portrays them. Reggie is sophisticated, methodical, affable; Ronnie is
impulsive, unpredictable, paranoid. As a vehicle for Tom Hardy's acting
chops, Legend is a home run. Unfortunately, that is where the positives
of the movie end.
The movie is tonally confused from scene to scene. It can be romantic one minute, ultra-violent the next, then reserved and introspective the minute after that. It's clunky writing; every time the movie begins to gain momentum it trips on itself one way or another. Also, you really don't care about any character other than the twins. I mean, thankfully they're in just about every scene, but they're always surrounded by faceless goons, or with a generic love interest, or no-name cops - not fully fleshed out characters. This is in no way a fault of the actors though. Christopher Eccleston is wasted yet again as a villain after Thor: The Dark World. Here he's in an antihero role as the cop assigned to the Kray's case, but his lines lack any form of personality. He does what he can but he really has nothing to work with. Chazz Palminteri makes an appearance for about 5 minutes total as his usual gangster self, but in the end you're left scratching your head. So many characters, so much potential, but the only thing holding the movie together is Tom Hardy.
So as you can infer, Legend is worth a watch if you're a Tom Hardy fan. He's scarily good in these roles, and two Tom Hardys are better than one. For that reason alone I can't give this movie a lower score. However, if you're looking for substance in a gangster biopic, you'll have to look elsewhere.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The only good thing about this very average film is Tom Hardy's acting.
A lesser talented actor would have made it almost unwatchable. Short on
facts, the writers here have just invented or borrowed bits to try and
make the film sensational. It hasn't worked very well but at least
shows the 'Krays' were a couple of psychopathic violent lunatics whose
scrambled brains believed they were something special. Fact is, in this
film, the one bit of fact we do know was said by Chas Palmintiri as
Angelo Bruno the Philly mob boss, 'mobsters should keep a low profile'.
Ironically poor old Angelo Bruno got whacked by Nicky Scarfo, a
psychopath mafiosi who just like the 'Krays' loved being high profile
and just like the Krays was sentenced to die in prison.
The 'Krays' and most of the morons who worked for them were as thick as planks. They were also seriously dangerous psychopathic paranoid, disorganised nut cases who would use violence against anybody who got in the way. Although the story seems to have forgotten a lot of well recorded facts and many real people. Where was older brother Charlie Kray and other faces who stood trial with them. Why so many of the main 60s true characters strangely left out of the film. The so called shootout scene was way off the recorded known facts in the Kray's pub the 'Carpenters Arms' and the only gunfight was in Catford at 'Mr Smiths' drinking club in 1965 and neither of the Krays were there. In this film, the 'Blind Beggar' pub had mysteriously moved from it's prominent place on the busy east end Whitechapel Rd to what was some unknown dark cobbled back street which was obviously a film set. Frances Shea had left Reg Kray 8 months after the wedding in 1965, she left diaries clarifying he was fairly useless as a man. The Triumph Spitfire he buys her was a 1967 registered car some two years later. Far from being respected by their 'firm' they were often looked upon a a couple of morons. Albert Donahue's nicknames for the twins was 'Gert and Daisy'.
The film could have told interesting story if it had been researched properly. The true story is far more interesting than this fiction. None of it is anywhere near the truth.
This film takes some of it's stories from an old book written by a toff named John Pearson. The book was written forty plus years ago and I can imagine they must have had a great time filling Pearson full of tall stories. But this film surpasses the book in being so full of fiction it becomes a spot the next mistake game. I am glad to say that the film does not glorify the 'Krays', it shows them more as the pathetic, paranoid, violent, brainless sick morons they were. Very lucky to have gotten away with their crimes for so long. But the 50s and 60s were not long after the war and London and times were a whole lot different. If anyone out there aspires to admire these couple of lowlifes, they seriously need a reality check up.
The Krays and the Richardson stories have been hijacked by so many 'silly b***icks' wannabe gangsters and money grabbing Kray wives it has become a monumental joke. Much of it fuelled by old showbiz people like Barbara Windsor for one who come up with' they were good boys who loved their old Mum'. Many of the most evil despots in history loved their Mothers. The 'Krays' were hated with a passion by many of the proper old faces around London. The Krays were disorganised and out of control. Only last week, Freddie Foreman, who is a wily old fox and was smart enough to shun the limelight when he was active said had the Krays not been arrested they were due to be 'ironed out'. Freddie Foreman would know more about the Krays, the Richardsons and London's underworld than is contained the many books about the 'Krays'. There are many who were there who believe that it would have been better for all of us if they had been ironed out and disappeared off of the face of the earth in 1967.
The 'Krays' do not deserve being called a legend. The bull***t has created an industry out there for second rate books, films and documentaries that will invent anything to get your money. This is just another one. As a gangster movie, it isn't in the same league as American films 'Godfather' 'Goodfellas' or 'Casino' from a Brit angle it doesn't come close to 'The long Good Friday' or 'Sexy Beast'. 'Legend' is just another ordinary film made watchable by Tom Hardy's performance.
Before you see this movie, watch Monty Python's 'Pirhana Bros' sketch and take on the Krays, apart from being hilarious, the Pythons got it far more right than the writers of 'Legend'.
When you walk into a film with not one but two leading performances by
Tom Hardy, who's back catalogue brings nothing but pleasure (apart from
This Means War, but we'll let that slide), you cant help but feel
disappointed when you leave the screen completely unaffected by what
you've just watched, and that was certainly how I felt hen it came to
Labelled of course as a Kray twin biopic, it sadly offers no real insight into their story and only grazes the top of their criminal wrong doings. Instead it goes down the route of Reggie and Frances love story, who is a character so under developed that the fragility her brother so often reiterates, isn't actually explained what so ever and prevents us from feeling anything towards her.
As for Hardy he plays both characters exceptionally well, particularly Ronnie who's insanity and subsequent spontaneity provides some comic relief to it all, however his psychological state is something that could of been explored more thoroughly instead of labelling him as just nuts. The supporting cast, including Taron Egerton and Christopher Eccleston, also do a fine job though Ecclestone's police officer almost gets ignored completely.
The violence is also few and far between but when it appears they definitely don't hold back, providing entertaining scenes more reminiscent of other crime dramas and what you would expect going in. It shows us the real consequences of the lifestyle they live which does its best to offset the fairly superficial painting of 60's London but isn't enough and so the 'glossy' comments its been receiving are sadly warranted.
In the end this adds up to a rather dull final product that wastes so much potential in this genuinely interesting real life crime partnership.
I was really looking forward to this one; the trailers were great and, whilst I'm not one of those who glamourise the Krays (they loved their mums, would do anything for you blah blah blah), I do find it bizarrely fascinating how the Krays/Richardsons have passed into London folklore. Alas, it's a bit of a let down. Hardy throws himself into both roles, by turns amusing and scary as Ronnie and compelling as a Reggie trying to build an empire while struggling to keep his brother in check. But he is let down by a clunky structure, it takes a while to get going and subplots and characters are introduced and then discarded on a whim, an awful Frances Kray voice-over, and an uneven script which can't quite decide if it wants to be an American style gangster flick or tread the same path as The Long Good Friday, Get Carter et al. And who let Duffy and her nails down a blackboard voice back in? I really hoped we'd seen the last of her after that crap Diet Coke ad. The club scenes aren't quite working guys. I know, let's get Duffy, stuck a wig on her and she can caterwaul her way through some 60s classics. High five!!!
First off, hats off to the acting in this film - the cast did an
I was worried when i saw the trailer but i gave it a chance and I'm so glad i did. Truly a very well put together film, with a plot that carried it through and several audience members including myself cried at times.
It showed the brothers in a different light. Allowing the audience to love them, hate them, sympathise and empathise with them. Tom hardy played both brothers excellently and hats off to the supporting actress who played Frances Kray - she did a fantastic job.
A film you could re-watch again and again, the atmosphere and the wardrobe were key aspects of this film and the director delivered on pulling out all the stops. The script was beautifully written.
That said, I'd ask you to remember that this film is from one take on the Krays, they were a complex pair and short of holding a séance, we will never know what went on in their minds - this film is an adaptation of an account.
Judge it on what you see, don't waste time with trailers that spoil parts for you. Buy a ticket and some popcorn and enjoy!
Tom Hardy gives an all time great performance, double acting as both
the notorious Kray twins. The story is also quite comedic, clever and
full of some great thrilling scenes. One of the great things about this
film is you know what you're going to get, and it delivers, then some.
It's bloody on top of witty, charming and fun. Legend serves up one of
the great films of the year, whilst also being quite modest in its
With Tom Hardy's already established terrific acting skills, Legend becomes something more then a typical gangster crime film. It feels invested into making the viewer content with its two hour runtime, whilst always respecting. The award for best actor goes to Tom Hardy, for sure.
The infamous Kray brothers identical twins Reggie and Ronnie are so well known in British gangster history they've already had multiple films made about them. What writer-director Brian Helgeland brings to the table with his take on the notorious siblings is exuberant storytelling, classy visual styling and a tour de force performance by Tom Hardy as both twins. Hardy's dual turn is undeniably the centrepiece of the movie. His Reggie is all charm and swagger, with intelligence and ambition to boot, whilst the schizophrenic Ronnie is a short-tempered ball of emotional bluster. Helgeland sensibly opts to make Reggie the focus; of the two he is the more grounded one, a gangster with lofty aspirations and the ability to interact on a human level with those around him to make his goals a reality. There is also genuine chemistry between Hardy (as Reggie) and Emily Browning, her fragile yet strong-willed Frances able to draw out the romantic side of Reggie, making his bursts of savagery all the more terrifying. Sporadically placed throughout the (overlong) two hour plus runtime, the bouts of violence bubble with intensity and exhilaration, often uneasily enjoyable thanks to moments of levity sprinkled alongside them. The 60s setting is capitalised on too, Dick Pope's elegant photography giving proceedings a classical feel while Carter Burwell's powerfully soulful score affects deeply at all the right times. There's a sense of glorification here that mightn't sit well with some audience members, however the Krays were adored in the East End and to deny the glitzier parts of their life would be to deny what made them popular to begin with. An exceptional crime picture with two outstanding performances from one man, proving again that Hardy really is an acting legend.
Tom Hardy is a strange fish as an actor. Famous for being almost
incomprehensible in "The Dark Night Rises" and almost equally
incomprehensible in his co-starring role in "The Revenant", it's
sometimes really difficult to get a sense of his true abilities. Here
in "Legend" he gets to show what he's made of
. Twice! Hardy plays both
roles in the story of Reggie and Ronnie Kray, the infamous gangsters
who ruled across large parts of London in the 1960's.
The film tells the story of the rise of the duo, focusing in particular on the wooing by Reggie of Frances (Emily Browning), the local girl who fell in love with and then married the hoodlum. Reggie and Ronnie whilst both undisputed 'bad uns' were as different as chalk and cheese. Reggie was all for semi-legitimizing the business, running deals through his socialite-heavy clubs, and gaining higher-level cover by inveigling his way into control of political contacts such as Lord Boothby (a delightfully oily John Sessions).
In contrast, Ronnie was an out-and-out psychopath with a malfunctioning 'off' button and no button at all marked 'self-control'. An open homosexual something far more shocking in the '60s than it is today Ronnie was a medicated loose cannon that even Reggie had trouble controlling. Gathering a posse of 'boys' around him (including Kingsman's Taron Egerton) Ronnie blazes a trail of bloody violence against rival gangs with little regard to the consequences.
On the side of the law was Nipper Read ("Dr Who" re-booter Christopher Ecclestone) as the dogged detective trying to find something anything to pin on the brothers.
Hardy manages to convey each brothers' idiosyncrasies so well that you quickly forget that this is the same actor playing both roles. It is only in some of the more interactive scenes (such as a fight between the two of them) that the illusion fails apart somewhat and where acting twins would have made for more convincing footage (unfortunately Jedward were unavailable!).
What makes Hardy's performance as Reggie particularly memorable is that for much of the film - and against your better judgment - you end up rooting for Reggie and wishing him to 'succeed'. (This is more by way of comparison against Ronnie's truly abhorrent behavior than against any absolute measure of 'good').
Browning is also compelling as the love-lost Frances, getting deeper and deeper into a world she has no control over and having to act to extremes of both love and fear. Also worthy of mention is the portrayal by David Thewlis (Lupin from the Potter films) of the Kray's financial adviser Leslie Payne: a man who knows he has the financial respect of the twins (at least Reggie) but is always sailing a dangerous course between kowtowing to them and criticizing their actions.
Written and directed by Brian Helgeland ("Payback"), this is an intelligent British thriller, reflecting a visceral view of the criminal underworld of London in the '60's. Overall, its an enjoyable watch that perhaps - Hardy aside - doesn't quite live up to its potential. A note however for the sensitive viewer: this is a very (very) violent film in places, and a couple of the scenes in particular are hard to watch.
(Please visit bob-the-movie-man.com for the graphical version of this review. Thanks.)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I bet that you, like me, walked into the theatre expecting to see a
gangster movie about the Kray twins only the film is not about them at
all. Instead the central character is Frances and the entire story is
told from her point of view. You don't get a picture of the criminal
world just long love scenes between Reggie and Frances.
To illustrate it there is a scene where Frances asks Reggie to leave the gangster world and he answers that it's not that simple. And I was sitting there asking - why? If the film had actually shown the Kray's criminal life I could have understood his reasons for saying that. But as it is Reggie and Ron remain a mystery, their stories are never really told.
Also, and this seems to be a pet peeve of mine lately, the movie is over-narrated. It doesn't just stop at things that need to be explained for people to understand the story it is actively telling and not showing and expecting that to make up for the lacking plot.
Around 2/3 of the way in I was getting bored with Legend as it didn't deliver in any way. Perhaps it doesn't deserve a score as low as 2/5, perhaps some people will enjoy it a bit more than I did, but what got me the most was that at the end the film actually had the gall to preach their "morality" at the viewer. That's what really got me the most.
Overall the Legend is a mediocre film that's not really as good as the trailers make it out to be.
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