Sunday 13 September 2015

Legend Review By Carleton Rutter

Directed by: Brian Helgeland
Starring: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Taron Egerton and Christopher Eccleston
Genre: Biography, Crime, Thriller
Strapline "Brothers, Gangsters, Icons"

So, in a nutshell?
Legend is the story of notorious gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray and how they terrorized London during the 1950s and 1960s.

So, what are my thoughts?
Coming hot-on-the-heels off the success of Mad Max: Fury Road, arguably the summer's best movie, Tom Hardy here takes on the dual role of the infamous gangster brothers from London. This is not the first time the infamous siblings have received the big screen treatment, with The Krays (1990) starring real life brothers Gary and Martin Kemp coming before it.

Front and centre is Tom Hardy who gives a riveting performance as both brothers. The danger of using the same actor for both roles was not a technical one but rather the fact that it was potentially a distraction to have one person play two people. This is thankfully not the case as Hardy delivers a masterful and unique performance as both Ronnie and Reggie respectively. Reggie is the more balanced suave good looking brother, whilst Ronnie is the unhinged sibling with an itchy trigger finger and red hot temper. They truly are very different people and I never felt it was the same actor playing both roles, couple this with superb split screen CGI and you had two living breathing brothers. Therefore huge credit must go to not only the effects departments but also Hardy who is clearly turning out to be perhaps the actor of his generation.

Tom Hardy is well supported by Emily Browning as Frances Shea, Reggie's love interest and story's narrator. Browning gives a great performance by the way and proves that she is one to watch. The cast also features well known names such as Christopher Eccleston, Taron Egerton, David Thewlis, Tara Fitzgerald and Chazz Palminteri.

Legend is very atmospheric and is extremely evocative of 1960's London, with the East End in particular being very well recreated. It is extremely well shot and lit so kudos to Dick Pope the cinematographer and set decorator Crispian Sallis. Given it's 18 rating here in the UK, I was expecting Legend (above all given its subject matter) to be violent and have strong language which it was and it did. I was not expecting though for just how funny the movie turned out to be. The lion share of the funniest moments were supplied by Ronnie, although there is a very humorous opening scene courtesy of Reggie. The movie in general actually, despite it's certificate never had a totally serious edge to it, which was good.

Legend however is not without it's issues and it's these issues that I'm afraid to say hold it back from greatness and back from movie I wished it had been. Legend is engaging and well acted but structurally the movie is a bit of a mess. Also despite Hardy's stunning central turn and a beautifully recreated world it can at times drag quite a bit. The pacing is a out of whack and as a result the movie feels longer than it's 2 hours 11 minutes. It would definitely have benefited by having 10-15 shaved off it's running time. I have already mentioned the great cast but save Hardy himself they are not that well used. Especially Browning and Eccleston's character (The policeman on the Kray's tail). These were pivotal people in the history of the Krays and are unfortunately brushed over and very underwritten.

My Rating 

Legend will do nothing to damage the rising star of Tom Hardy's ever prosperous career. Based on his efforts alone, the movie deserves a better rating but his stellar dual turn is held back by a lacklustre story that is wrapped up in a movie whose framework is far from clear. Offering us a frustrating meandering approach and one that feels at times very surface level rather than a more dynamic deeper look into the lives of these infamous siblings. But Hardy is a delight and the movie is funnier than expected and looks great, so I would still recommend you check this one out. It is released from Friday in the UK.

By Carleton Rutter