London’s crime lords are ruling the streets once again in this hard-hitting crime thriller. This true story of the rise and fall of London’s most notorious gangsters, Reggie and Ronnie Kray, is sure to excite audiences across Texas.
Both portrayed by Tom Hardy in an amazing double performance, the Kray twins helped establish a ‘we look after our own’ mentality that still exists today as they rubbed elbows with some of the most notable names of their time — all while running a major crime operation. The exploits of their reign are indeed the stuff of legend, and this adaptation holds true to the good, the bad and the ugly.
Hardy does an amazing job portraying the twin crime lords of London, and this film is more evidence of the actor’s prowess and maturity since his early work. The Kray twins were very different individuals, each with their own quirks, and Hardy embodies both roles perfectly. For Reggie, Hardy reaches into his repertoire to combine the charismatic-yet-cool demeanor of Eames from Inception with the stern nature and family-first attitude of Forrest Bondurant from Lawless — two roles which helped Hardy gain acclaim in the industry.
For Ronnie on the other hand, Hardy seems to have taken inspiration from his time as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises and given some original touches to create a unique individual who is both humorous and hair-raising.
But let’s not forget about our guide through these troubled trails. Reggie’s girlfriend-then-wife Frances (Emily Browning) is the leading lady of the show, but the weight of their intense life was simply too much to bear. Browning has done great in the role, making a compelling landscape and unraveling the story for audiences. Through her eyes, audiences can see the Krays go from being the heros of East End to her personal hell, and it pushes viewers to the edge of morality — give in to their charm and escapades and they’re heroes; hold tight to morals and they become monsters. But for Frances, they were legend. Despite her embodiment of who Frances was — or perhaps due to that embodiment — Browning goes mostly unnoticed, living in the shadow of Hardy’s double performance.
The cinematic styles of Academy Award winner Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential, Mystic River) and Dick Pope (The Illusionist, Mr. Turner) come together to paint a complex picture of 1960s London. Paying attention to detail and nuance, this film feels more like a highlight of post-classical cinema than most productions today, which really puts it above many other films from this year. This holiday season is packed with gems from the Hunger Games finale to The Hateful Eight, and Legend is definitely a top contender.
4 out of 5 stars