Legend

 

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Tom Hardy plays Ronnie and Reggie Kray in Brian Helgeland's slick, mean and gritty gangster 

comedy-thriller.

 

Legend

Tom Hardy (left) as Ronnie Kray and Tom Hardy (right) as Reggie Kray

  

There is every reason to see Brian Helgeland’s Legend. As a gangster film, it may not stand up to the hallucinogenic verve of Scorsese’s best, but it packs a slick and gritty punch of its own. In some ways, it is an even darker, meaner animal. By injecting an element of humour into the portrayal of the cocky Kray persona, the film earns its moments of grim finality in its later passages. But for much of the time one is not sure whether to flinch or to laugh. As the bear-like, physically awkward Ronnie Kray, Tom Hardy provides a compelling caricature. Monolithic and disfigured by horn-rimmed glasses, Hardy sounds like Harry H. Corbett with a bad head cold but still never loses the hair-trigger unpredictability of a mad man with no moral or political vision. As the cool, debonair, cocksure and funny Reggie Kray, Tom Hardy turns in an equally irresistible display of ever-present danger. His Reggie is like James Bond with the wrong accent. He’s also a fearless charmer, for whom rival East End gangsters, the police or even the American Mafia have no emotional sway. The only person who genuinely scares him is his mother-in-law (Tara Fitzgerald).

 

Ultimately, though, Legend is a deeply disturbing film, not without its longueurs, but also peppered with shocking moments of brilliance, with Hardy’s bravura scene stealing artfully complemented by Emily Browning’s sweet yet headstrong reading of Reggie’s wife Frances. There is also sterling support from David Thewlis, Tara Fitzgerald and an uncredited Paul Bettany, and a cracking script by Helgeland (who previously penned L.A. Confidential and Mystic River). While the film’s structure could have done with some streamlining, Hardy plugs the gaps with muscular mastery.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston, Chazz Palminteri, Taron Egerton, Paul Bettany, Colin Morgan, Tara Fitzgerald, Aneurin Barnard, Paul Anderson, Duffy, Kevin McNally, Sam Hoare, John Sessions, Sam Spruell, Tim Woodward, Lorraine Stanley.

 

Dir Brian Helgeland, Pro Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Chris Clark, Quentin Curtis and Brian Oliver, Screenplay Brian Helgeland, Ph Dick Pope, Pro Des Tom Conroy, Ed Peter McNulty, Music Carter Burwell, Costumes Caroline Harris.

 

Cross Creek Pictures/StudioCanal/Working Title Films-StudioCanal.

131 mins. UK/France/USA. 2015. Rel: 9 September 2015. Cert. 18.