TIFF 2015: Legend
London in the 1960s saw swinging parties, sexual liberation, drugs, and organized crime. This gave way to 2 of the most notorious gangsters in the city’s history. Twin brothers Reggie and Ronnie Kray created an empire and controlled the East End territory. Tom Hardy plays both brothers in this violent yet fun recreation of their legendary legacy.
In this portrait of the infamous brothers, we see their rise to power through criminal activity, intimidation, and a willingness to do what it ever it took to rule London. We also get to know their personal lives through their relationships, Reggie with his wife Frances and Ronnie with his male companions. Eventually their luck runs out as sloppy and emotional criminal activity lead to their arrest and the downfall of everything they created.
Tom Hardy certainly isn’t the first actor to play dual roles in one film but he does it quite convincingly. He managed to create two distinct characters each with their own personalities through the use of wardrobe, makeup prosthetics, and a change in his disposition. These side-by-side performances were definitely a highlight of the film and really display the talent he has.
There are conflicting reports about Reggie’s sexuality but it was no secret that Ronnie was a homosexual. It was a side of himself that he shared freely with those around him even though it was still during a time when most were reluctant to be open about their sexuality. The film doesn’t shy away from this, regularly showing Ronnie with his boyfriend, played by newcomer Taron Egerton, making a splash earlier this year in Kingsman. I expected the film to potentially gloss over or minimize this fact but the sexual innuendo talk is funny, obvious, and more on point than I expected. However, the film does go the “safe” route by not showing any affection between the two men, something I wish they hadn’t done.
Emily Browning as Frances, Reggie’s wife, is also quite good in the film. Her character is narrating the story for the viewer, guiding them through the history of the Krays were really like and what their criminal escapades consisted of.
The film is violent at times but it is entertaining, slick, and at times really quite humourous. It is strong enough to be a crowd pleaser for the general audiences and it meets the expectations set in the trailer but doesn’t offer anything above what it set out to do. It constitutes an enjoyable evening out at the theatre and it solidifies Tom Hardy as a genuine movie star, especially after the success he found earlier this year with Mad Max: Fury Road.
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