After a busy few years for Tom Hardy, we get his final entry for 2015 with Legend, the story of the Kray twins rise to power in 1960’s England. With both twins played by Hardy, this story is sure to entertain but has a hard time matching up with a long list of great films released this year.
So, is it any good?
When people think of gangster movies, names like Scorsese and Coppola dominate the genre. While this is never going to make it into any Top 10 gangster movie lists, this film is easily one the better big budget gangland entries in the last ten years. It’s written and directed by Brian Helgeland (L.A Confidential, Mystic River), and co-stars Emily Browning, Christopher Eccleston and Taron Egerton. The film follows the Kray crew’s beginning as humble criminals, working their way up the ranks to become some of the most powerful and untouchable men in England. For a nice change though, the film doesn’t spend too much time showing the twins living large and swimming in money, instead choosing to concentrate on their relationships and how close they are having it all come to an end at any minute.
Hardy dominates the screen for the entire film. Although I spent the first part of the movie trying to pin point how they were creating the scenes and the technical aspects of having two Tom Hardy’s on screen, I quickly forgot that I was watching the same actor playing two characters, and caught myself multiple times thinking how similar these actors looked. Reginald Kray (Hardy) is the leader of the twins, the level headed businessman behind the operation. Meanwhile Ronald Kray (Hardy) is the completely insane, violent muscle that despite becoming more and more wealthy and legitimate, misses the old days of fighting in the streets and longs for a good old fashioned shoot out. While the film concentrates on the relationship between the twins primarily, it focuses on Reggie becoming involved with a local girl (Browning), and striving to become a legitimate man and eventually escape the life of crime.
While the trailer makes this film look more like Snatch, this is first and foremost a drama. Not that the film is short of humour, Ronald providing the majority of laughs. I think one of the biggest downsides for me was that the film is set over several years, but gives no real indication of when events are taking place, aside from a yearly mention of Christmas and a few extra grey hairs on the characters. Another aspect that upset me was the use, or rather the lack of use, of Taron Egerton. After starting off this year with an extremely strong role in Kingsman: The Secret Service, he only has a handful of lines in this film. So, while it’s good to see the actor getting roles, this part could have literally been played by just about anyone. Australia’s own Emily Browning holds her own, and is just about the only actor in the whole movie that comes close to our leading man’s level. Without Hardy, this movie would likely be a entirely forgettable period piece, and the fact the he plays both twins is a nice novelty and something the raises the caliber slightly. So, if you love a good rags to riches story, the importance and struggles of family, a nice little trip back to the 1960’s, or all of the above, you will get a kick out of this film.