Ah, The Kray Twins. Those legendary Gangster brothers that took over the East End of London with their gang during the 1950s and 60s. Brian Helgeland’s Legend tells the story of Ronald and Reginald Kray’s crimes during their active years, told by Reggie’s wife Frances (played by Emily Browning)… And who better to tackle the lead roles of the high-end biopic of the lethal duo than Tom Hardy?
A masterful film from its’ inception, cleverly told through the innocent eyes of 18-year-old Frances Shea as she falls in and out of love with Reggie Kray throughout the ups and downs of his criminal career with his beloved sibling. This film, with an age certificate of 18, promises gore and strong language, and it delivers. Both comically inspired and ruthlessly tense, Legend brings to life a gritty and secretive underbelly to the City of London.
Tom Hardy’s portrayal of each twin is to be credited – the unstable, hot-tempered Bane-voiced Ronnie is a lightyear away from his brother, calculating and reasonable, with a soft spot for his Frances. And of course it would be impossible to talk about the portrayal of the two brothers by one man without applauding the cinematography and editing teams for the completely faultless way that they created the illusion of two Hardy’s onscreen.
The supporting cast, made up of Emily Browning, Christopher Eccleston, David Thewlis, Taron Egerton and Paul Bettany, amongst others, were all incredible in their performances, although were definitely overshone by the power of Hardy’s limelight. Having the film told by Frances is interesting in the way that she thoroughly explores the Krays from the outside, yet interestingly we are not given complete clarity into her character as the wife of a Kray. This underdevelopment of her character can be seen as one of the films faults, yet can be forgiven by the overpowering nature of the films’ closing scenes.
This film lived up to my fairly high expectations through it’s beautifully (although sometimes slightly too pristine) captured scenes, stunning acting and intricate plot and character developments. The ‘calm after the storm’ elegance of the final scene in the film is effective in leaving me as an audience member satisfied with what I have witnessed, as the film fades from Reggie at rock bottom into titles explaining the ultimate imprisonment and demise of the once dazzlingly dangerous and powerful brothers. A must-see for any crime and thriller fan.