Apologies for no post last week but I was attempting to get a tan in Majorca! Anyway, this week I went to see Legend, the new Tom Hardy film based around the Kray twins. (I’m going to be honest here and admit that I was only really interested in the film because I’m a little in love with Tom…!). If you don’t know the story of the Krays (which I didn’t) then basically they were identical twins, Ronnie & Reggie, who essentially ruled the East End of London in the 1960s and became the most notorious criminal gangsters in British history.
Tom Hardy takes on the challenge of portraying both of the twins and does a very good job as they may look the same but they are very different characters. Ronnie has just been released from a mental institute – thanks to a little pressure on his doctor from Reggie and his gang – and it is soon clear that there was a very good reason for him being there! Reggie on the other hand is the sane one of the two and seems to be the only person who can keep Ronnie’s wilder thoughts and ideas at hand. However when Reggie is sent to prison for 6 months, Ronnie is effectively left in charge and things soon take a turn for the worse as their business and reputation suffers under the hands of Ronnie. When Reggie is released he must pick up the pieces but Ronnie has taken the gangster life too far and Reggie must make some tough decisions.
Though the film shows us a lot of how the Krays ran the East End back then its primary focus is on Reggie as he falls in love with Frances Shea (Emily Browning). Frances is the sister of Reggie’s driver and when they meet they soon fall in love, but Frances is not keen on the gangster life and persuades Reggie to get out. He agrees but Ronnie has other ideas and constantly forces Reggie back in causing problems between Reggie and Frances. Their love story is beautiful, there are some really touching moments as it becomes clear how much they care for each other therefore when things start to go wrong you really feel for them. The chemistry between Hardy and Browning is electric, the two really connect with each other making their relationship all the more believable.
The rest of the cast (and it’s a big cast!) are also great, from members of the Krays gang to the police who are trying to find any reason to arrest the twins, everyone acts superbly. A few faces you may recognise: Taron Egerton (Kingsman), Christopher Eccleston (Dr. Who), David Thewlis (Lupin from Harry Potter!), Colin Morgan (Merlin), Tara Fitzgerald (Selyse Baratheon in Game of Thrones) and even a small cameo from Duffy as a singer in the club owned by the Krays.
Obviously the twins are identical and both played by Tom Hardy but for us to physically tell them apart Ronnie wears glasses and also has a slightly thicker jaw, meaning that he talks differently to Reggie. Tom is excellent at keeping the two twins as separate characters, they are both very believable, and due to Ronnie being mentally unstable his dialogue often comes across as being very funny – a lot of other reviews marked the film down for that but personally I think it made what could have been a very heavy going gangster film into something more light hearted. There is also a very impressive fight between the twins which has Tom Hardy effectively beating himself up!
Emily Browning is perfect as Frances, when we are first introduced to her we are told that she is in a delicate state (though why, is annoyingly never revealed!) and Emily does a great job at showing this side to her character. She also brings her own to what is fundamentally a man-driven film, so much so that you leave thinking more about her character than anyone else’s.
Overall I really enjoyed this film. It’s not something I would necessarily have chosen to see if the lead actor hadn’t been Tom Hardy as it is a gangster film. It’s also an 18 so I was expecting some graphic violence but there really wasn’t anything unwatchable – except maybe one scene which is slightly gory – but I think because the film is told through Frances and focuses more on her and Reggie’s relationship that it gives the film more of an appeal as there is something for everyone in it. Even if you haven’t heard of the Krays I would definitely recommend this film as it gives you everything that you need to know about them to understand the story, and it’s also genuinely a really well made film.