Legend is now showing at the Garden City Cinema in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.
The Krays have a odd reputation, feared by some, revered by others. No matter what your opinion of the Krays and their crimes, they’ve become part of British folklore and as such parts of their history are rewritten or conveniently forgotten.
They were proper east end gangsters who kept the streets clean of purse snatchers and rapists and loved their mum. The ‘never ‘urt no one that didn’t ‘ave it comin’ ethos made them into modern day Robin Hoods.
With Legend you’re in for some double trouble in this story of the notorious Kray Twins, both of which are played by Tom Hardy.
Based on John Pearson’s 1972 crime biography The Profession Of Violence: The Rise And Fall Of The Kray Twins the film is brutal, funny, sad and at times touching.
The relationship between Ronnie and Reggie is an endlessly fascinating subject, two parts of the same person, but in Legend there is also the relationship between Reggie and Francis Shea his first wife, played by Emily Browning. A young girl who falls in love with a gangster, much to her mother’s irritation and her life is changed forever. Browning is great as Francis, she’s the fragile beauty who captures Reggie’s heart and she tries her best to get Reggie on the straight path.
As Reggie, Hardy is impeccable. Handsome, tough and shows some subtle hints that he shares a bit of the same problems his brother has. Reggie runs a successful nightclub frequented by gangsters and celebrities alike and he rules with a rod of iron. Ronnie Kray starts the film in a mental hospital, diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic and mentally unstable but due to some intimidation tactics he is released and able to build his crime empire with Reggie.
Ronnie is obsessed with the idea of being a real gangster, he likes the violence and he likes the respect. Ronnie is also openly gay, something unusual for the time, as it was still illegal in Britain. The twins are scary but Ronnie takes fear to a whole new level. His dead eyed stare is chilling and his lust for violence is disturbing but all the while there is a childlike quality to him which sadly is overshadowed by the comedic portrayal.
Francis, the love of Reggie’s life isn’t as fully fleshed out as she could/should have been so the emotional beats don’t land as well as they should and her narration of the film at times feels little flat. That said Browning draws you in, those eyes!
As Ronnie, Hardy is at times perfect but at other times he plays Ronnie as a bit too much of a caricature, as evidenced by the audience who laughed at just about everything he said, even when he was being sincere and not intentionally funny. It’s this broad characterisation that’s stopping this film from being as strong as it could have been.
Legend is a good film but it just falls short of being great. I recommend seeing it as it’s an interesting story and when it works it’s fantastic, it’s bold and brash; it’s just a shame that from time to time it feels a little thin.
To book tickets to see Legend at the Garden City Cinema click here.