Based on true events, Legend focuses on the story of the identical twin gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray, two of the most notorious criminals in British history and their organized crime empire in the East End of London during from 1960 to 1967.
November 20, 2015
Distributor: Anton Capital Entertainment, Cross Peak Pictures, & StudioCanal
Director: Brian Helgeland
Writer: Brian Helgeland
Stars: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Collin Morgan, Christopher Eccleston, Joshua Hill
Genre: Biography, Crime, Thriller
If you were expecting a hardcore, authentic, mob-style film after watching the trailer, let me just say that looks can be deceiving as Legend overall is anything but legendary.
Brian Helgeland (Payback) wrote and directed this crime drama about the rise and fall of two of the most notorious gangsters in England’s history: the Kray twins. Tom Hardy stars as both Ronald and Reginald Kray, identical twins who rose to prominence in London’s underworld in the 1950s and ’60s, using gruesome, unhinged tactics and savvy business acumen to seize control of the city. The film is adapted from John Pearson’s nonfiction tome The Profession of Violence.
Violence Content: Heavily violent from shootouts and gruesome stabbings to scenes of intense torture.
Language/Crude Humor: Countless ‘F’ words along with s*** throughout.
Sexual Content: There is a scene of homosexual arousal and a scene leading up to rape while nothing is shown, but it is obvious as to what had happened.
Drugs/Alcohol References: A few scenes where drugs are used, a character has a drug overdose, and countless scenes where alcohol is served.
Spiritual Content: None.
Negative Content: Deceit, lies, manipulation, and relationship dominance throughout the film. I wouldn’t widely recommend this to a Christian audience.
Positive Content: None.
I will start out this review by saying that Tom Hardy greatly stole the show–twice. His brilliant performance of portraying the smooth yet hardened crime boss Reggie Kray, and the unpredictable schizophrenic twin brother Ronald Kray, deserves more than just good credit and applause. Knowing Tom Hardy’s past character portrayals such as his smooth, focused dream seeker in Inception (2010) to the dark and brooding fighter he was in Bronson (2008), Warrior (2011), and The Dark Knight Rises (2012), this film role was a perfect fit for this talented actor.
While you cannot honestly compare this to the mob film Goodfellas (1990), it does have a Goodfellas feel to it as the film focuses on the Krays’ rise to power from simple night club owners to mob bosses of the East End of London and London itself. Also like Goodfellas, it had a biographical feel to it as the wife of Reggie Kray, Frances Shea, narrates certain moments of the film about the Krays and her relationship with Reggie.
As seen in most mob classic mob films, Legend contains a number of gang rivalry, intense bar fights, cringing torture scenes, and great moments of character development. The movie had the basic making of a good mob film.
Unfortunately, the mob-like scenes are limited and greatly spread out as the film has a rather different focus in regards to the plot unlike what was given in the trailer. Rather than focusing heavily on the Krays’ mob involvement, the film has a very detailed focus on the relationship between Frances Shae and Reggie Kray during the rise and height of the Krays’ power. Because of this, the storyline can feel as if it is moving away from the main plot, making you check your watch and feel as if the film is going on longer than it actually is.
To add on to this, a number of supporting characters really did not add on to the film’s overall plot when they actually should have. The trailer shows the proposition talk and deals made between the Krays and the American mobs in Las Vegas when in the actual film, there are only one to two short scenes that circle around that. It could have been greatly expanded on to show the Krays’ ties with the U.S.
Other side plots such as gang rivalries could have been expanded on rather than being shoved into the first forty-five minutes of the film and then appearing later on for only a few moments that go almost unnoticed. It left me very unsatisfied.
Legend had a lot of potential of being an outstanding modern mob film. Unfortunately, due to the sloppy writing and slow pacing of the film, Legend falls short of being an actual legend among the classic mob films.
+ Memorable acting by Tom Hardy
- Poorly paced plot
- Dragging of dialogue
- Waste of a strong supporting cast