Legend (2015) review

The Kray twins.  The first name on the tip of most lips when it comes to English gangsters.  Legend is a befitting title for what the brothers Reginald & Ronald left behind.  Legend is not the first film we’ve seen about the Krays and it’s not the last either.  Later this year sees the release of The Rise Of The Krays led by Simon Cotton & Kevin Leslie.  This film is fronted by Tom Hardy as both Reggie & Ronnie.  Shortly after the film is started the writer/director, Brian Helgeland (42, A Knight’s Tale,) presents us with a bracing image of Hardy brooding as both the twins, while they are driven around the East-End.  We get a glimpse at Reggie as a cocksure, charismatic man as he drags Nipper (Christopher Eccleston) from Scotland Yard round London.

One of the focuses of the film is on the romance between Reggie & Frances Shea portrayed by Emily Browning.  Her eyes are immediately fluttering as she opens the door of her disapproving mother’s house.  She’s smitten, but Hardy makes it believable as he commands a presence.  Emily Browning plays a great physical performance as she lovingly looks back into Reggie’s eyes. Their first date plays as one long continuous take from her parents front door into the club.  This commendable technique combined with Hardy’s romanticism of East-End gangster life, makes their relationship believable.  The diegetic soundtrack comes from Reg’s live singers at his club, they thump out 60s Motown that suits the style of the film.

Their relationship is one of too many focuses for the film.  The storytelling is hindered by too many balls to juggle.  Helgeland takes us through the twins relationship, their rise to the top in London, their rivalry with the Richardson’s and Scotland Yard’s investigation on the pair and that’s not even the lot.  It’s clear that there’s chunks of Eccleston’s Nipper left on the cutting room floor.  The relationship between Reggie & Ronnie is affected as there is very little building of it, which results in back peddling exposition.  Every single focal point draws on many recycled gangster film tropes.
Overall:  Too shabby and too long but held together by an outstanding lead performance and solid supporting cast.

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