This is not the first film about the Krays and nor will it probably be the last, they are Britain’s most notorious gangsters and a treasure trove of stories to make a film or television series. The difference this time is the man playing the Krays, and in itself the fact that it is one man and not two, with technology finally at the point where it is in fact completely plausible and believable to have one man simultaneously playing two people, it was really a perfect time for a film about twins, and these ones are particularly interesting. Tackling the Kray’s story at the height of their power in the 1960’s and slowly tracking their descent this is a story that not only focuses on the organised crime but on the lives of the brothers and of Frances Kray, wife of Reggie, and her ultimately sad story.
Tom Hardy is no stranger in his acting career to the criminal, early on appearing as Bronson in the film of the same name and moving up to Batman’s nemesis Bane and now on to the Krays. Hardy is a perfect choice, and shows his real skill in playing two very different men, the slightly more sensible but ruthless Reggie and the paranoid psychopathic Ron. It’s no easy feat to achieve and it’s really even a surprise he didn’t go mad during filming, doing scene after scene over and over once as Reggie and once as Ron; it shows some serious dedication on his part and it really pays off. Moving on to Frances played by Emily Browning who shows us exactly how her life descended further and further into darkness as her time with Reggie went on, being a gangster’s wife may have appeared glamorous from the outset but from what we see here it really was nothing of the sort. Her role in the story of the Kray’s is much more in the foreground in Legend, which gives the story a bit of a different angle to those that have come before it, a good balance of the Kray’s being funny and entertaining to being the unforgiving and even terrifying men that they were.
The smaller players in this one come in the form of Taron Egerton and David Thewlis, the latter of the two being the ever dependable and multi-faceted actor that he is, playing the gangster accountant who just wants to do his job in spite of Ron’s wild and paranoid ideas. Egerton is another story, playing the sort-of boyfriend to Ron, Teddy who really doesn’t do that much throughout the film. Despite his stellar introduction in Kingsman, his role in Legend falls a little flat, not a comment on his performance rather just that most of his part is laughing like a maniac and standing next to Ron, but he is a dependable sidekick at least.
It can’t be denied that there is a tonne of violence, but that’s true of the majority of films coming to our cinemas in recent times, undoubtedly. It’s not so much as to make the film too dark but just enough to remind you of who the Krays really were. The story makes for a good film, and they’re an interesting topic of choice but at the end of it all they were still violent murderous criminals who wanted nothing more than just to be able to do whatever they felt like and have no one get in their way. Tom Hardy is not one to be missed and it’s no surprise why this one did so well in the UK box office but if you’re not one for violent criminals then this isn’t for you.