At the height of their fame the Krays brothers were the most notorious gangsters in London. No one dared cross them because those who did often met a sticky end.
Legend deals with the rise and fall of the Kray twins; the twisted relationship that bound them together, their gruesome career and finally their downfall and imprisonment for life in 1969.
We begin with the identical Kray twins (Tom Hardy) already ruling the East End and in the midst of
a turf war with the Richardson gang. Reggie’s future wife Frances (Emily Browning) is our unlikely narrator, recounting the twins’ glory years through her relationship with Reggie, who she declares “it took a lot of love to hate.”
Reggie, the calmer of the two, but no less calculating, is on a mission to take over the capital. Sending in the heavies and ‘acquiring’ profitable businesses was enough to satisfy him in the past, but the power-crazed gangster wants more. But the one thing that can help him achieve his dreams is also the one thing that threatens to destroy it, his twin brother Ronnie.
Ronnie, although witty and smart as they come, is a certified paranoid schizophrenic and all-round lunatic. He takes great pleasure in causing the pain in others, and without his medication is an unstoppable killing machine. The tablets and his loyalty to his brother are the only things that stop Ronnie from going insane.
Reggie needs his brother’s help to take London on, they have been together since birth and he isn’t about to give up on him now. When Reggie bribes medical officials to release his twin from hospital he knows deep down that it won’t end well. But he doesn’t have any other choice.
Neither can exist without the other but when Reggie starts courting his driver’s sister Francis, the bond that ties them together threatens to break. However no matter what difficulties Reggie faces he always puts his twin first, much to the despair of Francis. Ronnie will be the death of him, but the prospect of abandoning his vulnerable brother is as unthinkable as giving up his dreams of gangster stardom.
We watch as the Krays reach new heights, only to fall further than they ever have before. The rivalry with the Richardson gang comes to a head in the Blind Beggar pub in 1966, and the rest as they say is history.
Legend is a gritty biopic of the Kray twins’ reign of terror. It’s exhilarating and violent without making a spectacle of the story. Its soundtrack is a joy to listen to. The 60s tunes working in sync with each of the scenes they appeared alongside.
The movie’s undoubted star is Hardy – both of him. He was only originally offered the role of Ronnie, but persuaded writer and director Brian Helgeland to let him take on both roles, and boy did it pay off.
The result is a striking portrait of a single divided self: Reggie, a calculated businessman struggling to keep his twin in check and Ron, the paranoid schizophrenic, whose lust for blood is matched only by his passion for handsome young men and the occasional slice of homemade sponge cake. Hardy plays both roles with such precision and ease.
Porcelain-skinned Browning plays her deeply emotional role to perfection with her narration throughout the movie is effective in its simplicity.
The Krays always longed for the spotlight and that’s exactly what this movie gives them. From the opening scene to the credits, Ronnie and Reggie would have loved it. Legend is a exceptional British crime thriller movie that you do not want to miss.
By Ruth Walker