Legend tells the story of brothers in crime, Reggie & Ronnie Kray (Tom Hardy), from the working class origins to glamour and riches, being the kings of organised crime in London but also their collusion with the American Mafia. Furthermore, Reggie’s toxic relationship with Frances Shea (Emily Browning) is an important arc as the film is Frances telling the story from her perspective, as she knew them best. One of the most important things is the recklessness of Ronnie Kray. He was a nutter and had lost his marbles. He was a paranoid schizophrenic and that’s not somebody you want as your partner. He’s unpredictable and rash but Reggie’s loyalty to his brother is admirable. As he says later in the movie that the only thing stopping him killing Ronnie is that they are family. The Kray Twins were the John Gotti of organized crime in Britain.
Ronnie Kray was a one man mob. A killing machine. It was getting him to stop that was problem. He was ruthless and utterly without mercy as we saw when he went into a pub and put a bullet in a certain gangster’s head without turning a shade. Tom Hardy’s performance as this madman was truly sensational as are the vast majority of Hardy’s performances. He doesn’t really do bad films. I’ve been hyped for this film since the announcement. It was either going to be really good or fucking shit mate. Those cunts at Working Title and Studio Canal were going to pull of great a movie or make it look like a gorilla’s arse but I have to admit they’ve pulled off an absolute firecracker of a film. What made Ronnie even more amusing in a sadistic sort of way is that before he was going to kill a few people or give someone a beating, he’d be cracking jokes. He genuinely feels insulted that people came to a fist fight without guns. He’s the type of guy that would bring a gun to knife a fight. He’s a bit Kray Kray if you ask me.
“What you doing with that rolling-pin? Going to bake me a cake? I came here for a proper shootout. A shootout is a shootout!….Like a western”
I loved the whole setting of the 1960s. They really captured me into the culture and spirit of 1960s London with the cars, fashion, music and clubs. What makes this movie is the soundtrack. The soundtrack is bloody brilliant. Legend glamorizes violence. What mobster movies doesn’t? It’s brutal and bloody. Hard and into the body, not pulling any punches. My screening was a full house and I saw many people wincing at the sheer brutality of the film. When somebody gets whacked, it’s a bloody mess and it’s ferocious. It’s gritty. The film is full of suspense and it’s magnetic, leaving you wanting more and it gives you more. It’s a masterpiece and I love that it’s a British film as well. It’s our reply to something like Goodfellas. Both films are awesome in their own way. You can’t help but see comparisons between Ronnie Kray & Tommy DeVitio.
“London in the 1960s, everyone had a story about the Krays. They were twins. Reggie was a gangster prince of East End, Ronnie Kray was a one-man mob.”
Browning delivers a good performance, concurrently fragile and pleasant, although her studious steady voiceover is very mellow and not harsh enough at times, for film of this nature. But like ’60s London itself, the film is dominated by the doubly intense performances of Tom Hardy as both Ronnie and Reggie Kray. Ballet’s Kemp brothers did alright back in the 1990 movie but comparing those two to Hardy can’t be done. Hardy is in a league of his own. Tom Hardy makes them look like the dog’s dinner. Do you think we look-alike? Now Reggie Kray. Reggie is a bit of young Brando. That Corleone esquire. A bit like Michael. A grand deceiver, telling his loved ones one thing and doing the opposite. For example, when Reggie (Michael Corleone) tells Francis (Kay Adams) that he’s not a gangster. Then there’s Ronnie who reminds me of Tommy (Goodfellas) but more so of Michael’s brother, Sonny; hotheaded, rash, a loose cannon. Ronnie is rigid and avoids looking people in the eye. He’s stone cold and has awkward body language. He is a pain to be around unless you’re Teddy Smith (Taron Egerton). Hardy has blurred the lines between the brothers. It’s a rarity to witness an acting rapport as great as this, against your identical opposite number.
Like all mobster movies, power, corruption and scandal are at the forefront, and maybe the odd scandalous sex orgie. The police, politicians and witnesses had all been paid by the Krays to keep their mouths shut. Politics was run by the Krays. So was law enforcement. There was no justice while they were at large.They were untouchable. Christopher Eccleston’s (Doctor Who/Thor: Dark World) character, Nipper Read is a man of the law and is out to stop them. He works for those cunts at Scotland Yard. It makes it worse that all of the East End love the Krays and hate the cops. The Krays grew up in the East End. The locals would never give up ‘one of their own’. Colin Morgan (Merlin/Humans), Paul Bettany (Age Of Ultron), Tara Fitzgerald (Game Of Thrones) and David Thewlis (Harry Potter/Theory Of Everything) also star.
Hardy’s no stranger to playing a gangster having played Alfie Solomon in BBC’s Peaky Blinders, another epic performance. Hardy’s portrayal of these two infamous gangsters is truly a sight to behold. He sucks you into their world on the streets of London. His lives of crime. They say crime doesn’t pay. Well Hardy has proven us otherwise. He has given us, yet again another powerhouse of a performance. Or should I say performances? I hope he is up for an Oscar or two when award season arrives next year. Hardy’s performance(s) will go down into myth and legend.