Director: Brian Helgeland
Cast: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Taron Egerton, Colin Morgan, David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston, Paul Anderson, Aneurin Barnard, Tara Fitzgerald, Chazz Palminteri, Adam Fogerty
Runtime: 2 hrs 12 mins
Rating: M18 (Violence and Coarse Language)
Released By: Shaw
Official Website: http://www.legendthemovie.com
Opening Day: 12 November 2015
Synopsis: From Academy Award® winner Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential, Mystic River) and Working Title (The Theory of Everything) comes the true story of the rise and fall of London’s most notorious gangsters, Reggie and Ronnie Kray, both portrayed by Tom Hardy in a powerhouse double performance. Together, the Kray Twins take over the city. But as their reign expands, power struggles, fierce madness, and a woman diminishes their bond; the weak link that could cause their empire to collapse. Legend is a classic crime thriller taking us into the secret history of the 1960s and the extraordinary events that secured the infamy of the Kray twins.
English actors can do no wrong. The latest artiste to prove that is Tom Hardy. We first took notice of him in Christopher Nolan’s 2010 science fiction thriller Inception (did you know the London born actor made his debut in 2001’s Black Hawk Down, and has also starred in the acclaimed war drama miniseries Band of Brothers?), and the following films he starred all showcased outstanding performances.
Bring on any genre for Hardy and he’ll ace it – be it sports drama Warrior (2011), espionage thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), superhero blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises (2012), mobster flick The Drop (2014) or post apocalyptic drama Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), the 38 year old actor has never disappointed.
It may seem gimmicky at first, but you have to watch how Hardy takes on the roles of the infamous Kray twins. We probably aren’t familiar with the English gangsters where we live in, but these two men were the foremost perpetrators of organised crime in the East End of London during the 1950s and 1960s. Ronald “Ronnie” Kray and Reginald “Reggie” Kray were no strangers to armed robberies and collecting protection money, amongst the countless arsons and assaults they were involved in. This 131 minute movie is based on John Pearson’s book The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins.
Hardy brings these two very different roles to life. Reggie is the more controlled older brother who has to manage the psychotic behaviour of his younger brother Ronnie, who is depicted as a gay (a very dauntingly macho one, no less) gangster in the film. Through mannerisms and sure handed direction by Brian Helgeland (writer of the multiple award winning LA Confidential and director of the Health Ledger vehicles A Knight’s Tale and The Order), Hardy has a lot to work with here. He doesn’t waste the opportunity to flex his acting muscles, portraying two men who are poles apart, but with the same capability to deliver terror to anyone who opposes them.
The ensemble cast is on top form as well. Emily Browning (Sucker Punch, Pompeii) is Reggie’s wife, Taron Egerton (Testament of Youth, Kingsman: The Secret Service) is Ronnie’s gay partner, Paul Bettany (Mortdecai, Avengers: Age of Ultron) is a leader from an enemy gang, David Thewlis (The Zero Theorem, The Theory of Everything) is the Krays’ business manager and Chazz Palminteri (Hollywood & Wine, Mighty Fine) is an American crime boss.
Although the British crime thriller does not deliver action and entertainment like a Hollywood production, those familiar with English gangster flicks like 1998’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and 2004’s Layer Cake (which Hardy also starred in) will enjoy this movie. The themes of brotherhood and loyalty come through strongly, with a touch of melancholy as Browning’s doomed character narrating the rise and fall of the Kray brothers. And as you’d expect from a British movie, there are moment of dry humour which are a different class from American jokes. Helgeland may not be Guy Ritchie or Matthew Vaughn, but he does deliver a stylised mobster flick that is worth your time.
(Great performances from the entire cast, plus a legendary depiction of the infamous Kray twins by Tom Hardy make this British gangster movie a recommended flick to catch)
Review by John Li