5
By Paul Kates
Sep 13, 2015 11:59 AM EST

Legend Theatrical Review

For me, after a year that promised so much and has given so little, it’s refreshing to walk out after seeing a movie and wanting to see it again. Legend is the best film I’ve seen this year.
Legend Theatrical Review
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London in the 1960's was a hub for gangland crime, but there was one gang that stood out from the rest - The Kray's. "Legend", directed by Brian Helgeland (Payback, Mystic River), brings the biographical story of the celebrity gangsters Ronnie and Reggie to the big screen, with Tom Hardy (Bronson, The Dark Knight Rises) playing both of the infamous twin brothers.

The movie is told virtually through the eyes of Reggie's wife, Frances, with voiced over narration from her throughout. Frances, the sister of a member of the Kray's famous "firm", takes the eye of Reggie much to her mother's annoyance; nonetheless, back then, as now, teenagers will be teenagers, and they do what they feel is right. Frances is smitten with Reggie, but although Reggie sees Frances as the girl of his dreams, he has bigger things on his mind - an empire, and ruling London through any means necessary with his younger twin Ronnie, who's more of a thug than Reggie and plagued with mental health issues. Just like the Kray's business, the movie has two different tales to tell - the public side that sees the boys as respected nightclub owners, their personal lives, Ronnie's open bisexuality, Reggie's relationship with Frances etc. Then the uglier side, but the side most people know more about, their involvement in armed robberies, arson, assault, protection rackets, and murder. When Brian Helgeland took his script to Cannes there was a lot of competition for it, with the response from buyers that it was one of the best scripts they'd come across, and it is! The telling of both tales is masterful overlapping in places, but only where necessary.

Tom Hardy himself has stated that playing both lead roles was one of the most challenging things he has undertaken in his career to date, but whether he was the straight laced businessman Reggie or the psychotic "nutter", Ronnie, he was superb. Putting equal amounts of effort into each role, you'd be hard pressed to say he played one twin better than the other. No stranger to British gangster roles, this is, undoubtedly, his best performance. Also pleasantly surprising is Emily Browning's (Sucker Punch, The Host) portrayal of Frances Shea. Browning really captures the mood and loneliness of being Reggie's only love wanting a normal relationship, while deep down inside struggling to cope knowing that will never happen. Always in the background is Christopher Eccleston (Thor: The Dark World, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) who plays the Kray's nemeses, Scotland Yard's very own Leonard "Nipper" Read, who maybe was not necessary in this film's story, but it's nice to see the man that nicked the Kray's is given some screen time.

Directing from his own script, Brian Helgeland certainly knew what way he wanted his movie to go in, trying to achieve it must have been a hard task, though. Daunting is the thought of having to pack over a decade of historical fact into a 2hr 10 minute movie, Helgeland made it seem easy, flowing from one scene to the next from set to set. With so much redevelopment over the last half a century, the London the Kray's lived and worked in is so different now, but, throughout, there was a certain atmosphere you'd associate with the swinging sixties, complimented by a fine soundtrack.

For me, after a year that promised so much and has given so little, it's refreshing to walk out after seeing a movie and wanting to see it again. Legend is the best film I've seen this year. A film that does not solely rely on CG action to get people's backsides in seats is refreshing; long may it continue.
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MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 131 minutes
Distributed By: Universal Pictures

For more information about Legend visit the FlickDirect Movie Database.

About Paul Kates

FlickDirect, Paul  Kates

Mr. Kate's love affair with the movies started at a young age and has remained an integral part of his life. Although favoring the action/thriller above all other genres, his interest doesn't stop there. He will watch anything from period dramas to science fiction. Not only is Paul Kates a fan of the silver screen, he is also fond of US TV dramas, notably Arrow, Game of Thrones and The Blacklist. His favorite movies include The Lord of the Ring trilogy, and the Jason Bourne movies, while still having a soft spot for Disney animation which still to this day evokes memories from his childhood. Read more reviews and content by .

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