Legend follows Ronald and Reginald Kray as they rise to power in London in the late 1950s/early 1960s. Ronald is a gangster in every sense of the word. He is most likely a schizophrenic, he relishes in the violence, he loves the power, and is in things for the respect and fear of the people around him. Reggie, on the other hand, is in this to make money, to make a name. He struggles to get out of the gangster life style, because he enjoys the power that is given to him because of it. He runs clubs and protection rackets, not always legitimately.
Tom Hardy plays both characters, as they are identical twins. He does an amazing job, somehow imbuing each with not only their own personality, but also their own physical characteristics and nervous tics. Ron is especially gravitational, pulling others into his obvious mental illness. He has the classic “no filter” and says things as they occur to him, sometimes in a rain of spittle. My only complaint with Ronnie is that sometimes he ranges into the familiar, much maligned “Bane” voice from The Dark Knight Rises. Reggie goes through a familiar arc of trying to break out, but not being able to due to his family obligations (to Ronnie, who his mother guilts him directly into assisting at times) and his aforementioned love of the fame and power.
Leslie Payne, and Christopher Eccleston as Nipper Read. None of them truly can match the intensity displayed by Hardy, but most (especially Egerton at times) are admirable in their roles.
My biggest problem with Legend was that there was no mystery involved, and very little surprise. The story arc is that of most gangster movies, and the movie checks all the appropriate boxes on the way there. The love story is boring for the most part, and I sincerely disagree with the decision to have Ms. Browning narrate the story as well. This is a well-trod trope that needs to disappear from movies – let the characters tell their own stories. However, fans of Tom Hardy and gangster movies will find some enjoyable scenes, because he truly owns the characters.
I’m going to give Legend a “B-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"