I went to see Legend with that Tom Hardy fella. He hogged the middle arm rest and pinched most of my Pepsi. Terrible joke, sorry. Anyhow, where was I. Oh yes. Tom Hardy.
I recently had a glut of Tom Hardy films. Somehow, due to LoveFilm and Amazon Prime conspiring we’d seen three in a week. There was The Dark Knight Rises, where he sounds like an asthmatic Kenneth Williams; The Drop, where he rescues a dog from a bin, and Locke which is a film about a concrete expert on a phone while driving. FOR 90 MINUTES. As such I wasn’t convinced I wanted to see Legend. Plus, who could do a movie about the Kray twins better than the brothers Kemp from Spandau Ballet?
Well, it seems Tom Hardy can. He plays both the psychopathic Ronnie, no, Reggie, no definitely Ronnie, and the charming Reggie, or was it Ronnie? Ach, he plays both Kray brothers with the help of some very clever CGI and without the aid of Andy Serkis, which makes this a bit of a rarity.
The movie didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know and didn’t open any new chapters on their lives. As you’d expect they were characterised as ambitious, ruthless gangsters keen to spread their operation further than the East End in which they lived. Part of me will always hate the glorification of two violent criminals; I couldn’t give a shit if they were nice to their mum; they murdered and were bullies.
Happily Legend gives us so much more than that. Based on the book, ‘The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins,’ the movie provides a real sense of the special bond between the brothers. If you’ve seen photos of the actual Krays you’ll know they looked quite different, so how can this be done by one person? How can one person convey the special bond for which the Krays are so well known? Well, I’m surprised to report that it’s entirely down to Hardy. He makes them look, sound and behave different. He’s THAT good.
There’s the slightly overweight, slightly taller Ronnie, prone to psychotic episodes that often become violent, then there’s the good-looking, charming, charismatic Reggie; the brains behind the Legend, or so we’re led to believe.
Underlying that are the back stories. Thankfully we don’t have the “but they loved their mum” angle rammed down our throats. It’s in there, but it’s subtle. What we do get is the unfolding love story of Reggie and Frances.
It’s done well. It must have been because it made me cry. More than once. I cried through their wedding ceremony and I cried at the bit where… well I can’t tell you that because it could be a spoiler. Suffice it to say it’s an emotional film. The man didn’t cry though. He’s from London where they all knew the Krays and I think, if anything, he cried a bit at the speaking of cockney and East Endness. As I said, it’s an emotional film and whilst you’re fed the idea that Ronnie is left out in the cold while Reggie woos his woman; brilliantly played by Emily Browning; he certainly isn’t lonely. He kinda has a love story too.
Oh, but don’t let all the love, romance and the crying comments leave you thinking the film doesn’t take the violence head-on. Because it does. And then some.
The violence is graphic. There are scenes that may make you want to hide behind your fingers but somehow it seems absolutely necessary that it’s presented to us in that way. They existed in a world which necessitated acts of violence and I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying they both ended up in prison and not via the Al Capone tax evasion route.
What I’m trying to tell you is that this is a well crafted, beautifully shot story of gangster violence with an unexpected touch of humour and warmth.
The movie also cleared up one mystery for me and I’m hoping I’ll sleep better as a result. We finally know what happened to Duffy.
That was a review for ZmG by me @NorthernPeasant. My trip to see Legend was self-funded, well, by the man I guess, but anyway I can say whatever I like.
Legend stars Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston and Taron Egerton. It was written and directed by Brian Helgeland, lasts 2 hrs 11 mins and is an 18 certificate. Legend was released on September 9th and is at cinemas up and down the country. Image courtesy of Studio Canal.