If you were to name a Tom Hardy film of last year, it is more than likely you would have said his Box Office monster that was Mad Max: Fury Road
But he was also in the movie adaptation of the best-selling novel Child 44 and Legend, a film about the Kray twins from Writer/Director Brian Helgeland (who had previously directed Mel Gibson in Payback and Heath Ledger in both the Sin Eater and A Knight’s Tale although he is probably best known as writer of such films as L.A Confidential & Mystic River)
As an added bonus in Legend, we get a buy one, get one free offer as Tom plays both roles of Ronnie and Reggie Kray.
The twins true story has been captured on screen before in the 1990 film The Krays, starring Gary and Martin Kemp from Spandau Ballet. Having watched that recently, as its one of those films that seems to be regularly shown on ITV4, it had dated but the one thing you take from that is just how evil they were.
This new film, based on John Pearson’s novel, The Profession of Violence (get it from Amazon Here ) will do nothing to change that opinion, in fact it was because they were so brutal, that without the amount of stories about them, they would not have become the stuff of Legend, hence the film title.
We join the film as Ronnie has been released from a psychiatric nursing home, with Reggie promising to take care of him and makes sure he takes his medication. This film centres around their most notorious time in the Sixties and we certainly are not getting any back story about what made them the way we are, how can it be justified?
In Legend we will see the rise and fall of the Krays, and in particular Reggie and his relationship with the love of his life, Frances (played by Emily Browning, who we at BMAF, first saw as a child actress in 2002 Horror Ghost Ship, although she is probably best known for her roles in Jim Carrey’s A series of Unfortunate events & Sucker Punch or for the fact she turned down the lead role in Twilight!)
This is a great film which will have you never routing for the Krays and hoping they get caught! At times, the Ronnie character is so out of control, it feels like he should be in a film like the Football Factory, but it is because of this, you do get more attached with the Reggie character. You hope he does go straight and follow his dream of being a successful nightclub or casino owner, but by the end of this film that hope will be wiped out and you route for Christopher Eccleston, as Nipper Read, to catch him and his brutal brother.
This film has an 18 certificate and whilst the colourful language helped, this is for the very strong and bloody violence, in particular a murder committed by Reggie, on his way to being caught.
A great cast, which also includes David Thewlis; Colin Morgan; Paul Bettany; Tara Fitzgerald and the Kingsman break out star Taron Egerton as Ronnie’s lover add to the impressive casting of Tom Hardy, who plays both characters with ease, giving them both different traits (this is not Jean Claude Van-Damme in Double Impact =)
However, whilst Tom will get much of the praise for this film, Emily Browning deserves a lot as well, for her role as the so in love but not knowing what to do for the right thing.As Frances, she certainly is the character you hope gets away from all of this and has a happy ending, yet we also know the pull the Krays have and understand why she would believe and stay with Reggie, despite what she sees.
The love story in Legend also helps make it different from the previous telling in The Krays, which had the love of their mother being at its core. In this version, she does no more than make them tea, their father is not even mention or oddly their older brother, Charlie.
The one thing that is true in both is The Krays were brothers who needed each other, perhaps if this wasn’t the case then it is possible Reggie may have been different, but as it was not, the ending is inevitable
Fantastic hair and make up as well as wardrobe really will transport you back to the Sixties. Legend also features A great soundtrack featuring new songs from Duffy, who also appears in the film as well, to sing them in Reggie’s club
You may feel the film could have been shorter than its 2 hours 12 minutes run time but if you are looking for a film about the Krays or London in the Sixties you could do a lot worse than watch Legend.
One thing for sure, Tom Hardy is going from strength to strength with another acclaimed performance in the Oscar nominated The Revenant , so much so it is hard to believe he was in Star Trek: Nemesis.
It is also great to know through watching shows like The Love of Dogs, he appears to be a lot friendlier than characters such as those he has played in Bronson; Warrior and The Dark Knight Rises although giving the box office of This is War, we won’t be expecting to see him in another RomCom soon.
You can rent or buy Legend from Amazon here: http://amzn.to/1Qt95Ih
Are you a Tom Hardy fan? Did you enjoy Legend? Do you think films like Bronson; Black Mass; Buster and these Kray films are wrong to glamorize these villains from the past or should they be celebrated as part of history? We, at Barking mad about Films would love to hear from you!
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