I love movies. I love writing about them. Hope you like reading what I write.
When Mad Max: Fury Road came out, some complained that Tom Hardy didn’t have a big enough presence in the film despite playing the title character, with a lot of the story’s focus dedicated to Charlize Theron’s awesomely stereotype-twisting role as Furiosa. To those people, I give a movie where we have twice the Tom Hardy for your buck.
Legend stars Tom Hardy as both Reginald and Ronald Kray, two gangsters who practically ruled London during the 1950s and 60s.
I find gangsters endlessly fascinating. The fact that there are people that are so powerful that they are above the law and will do anything to sustain that power is a terrifying and horribly poetic idea dating back to the ancients. That’s what makes the title Legend so appropriate. The Krays are legendary and this story shows their reign in a manner similar to iconic accounts of great kings. If you want to find about these twins, I recommend, as I do whenever watching a biopic, researching them after watching the movie.
The choice to have Tom Hardy play both identical twins is honestly one of the smartest filmmaking decisions of the decade. It could also have been one of the most foolish. Hardy had to bring about the similarities between these two very violent individuals while also showing that they are different people. Not to mention the technicalities of showing him talking to himself.
Luckily I can write that Tom Hardy and the superb visual effects department of Legend have surpassed all expectations I had by many a mile. At certain points I forgot that I was watching Tom Hardy. I only saw Ronnie or Reggie Kray in every brutal detail. Most times I can hazard a guess how a particular effect was done, in a movie. Here, though, I will have to watch the making of documentary. It is simply astounding. As my Dad and I left the cinema, he turned to me and asked, “So who played Ronnie? I know Tom Hardy played Reggie.” Praise does not get much higher.
Wait for it though, because praise is only going to increase in this review. Throughout the film Emily Browning gives a cool narration as the lover of Reggie Kray, Frances Shea. It feels like this is a story read to us by a primary source round a fire at night, further emphasising the level of Legend we are dealing with.
This device makes one feel like we are watching a Martin Scorsese film. I won’t say that this film has quite the same directional flair that Scorsese brings to his films, but it has no less brutality. I noted several fantastic nods to his 1990 masterpiece Goodfellas throughout the film. Fortunately this never gets in the way of the story and Legend‘s own blend of styles, it simply pays homage to the master of the gangster movie. The tributes are used for the sake of the film rather than as an excuse to say “One of cinema’s best directors did it, so it must be good.”
I’ve already written too much about this movie. I can think of no negatives. The writing, the direction, the acting, particularly from Hardy, is beyond Oscar worthy. Please go see it if you haven’t already.
Critics will write anything in the hope that it makes it onto either a poster or a DVD/Blu-Ray cover. I’d quite happily be quoted in saying that Legend IS the British Goodfellas. Yes. It really is that good!
Recommended Scenario: If you want to live through the lives of two criminals in one of the best movies of the year.
If what I have written tells you that you would like this film, you can book tickets to see it at your local Cineworld here.