Legend is the screen adaptation of the book The Profession of Violence – The Rise and Fall of the Krays Twins. The Kray twins were the dominant force within the ganglands of London during the 1960s. Possibly the most famous and iconic gangsters in the history of organized crime in the UK. Strangely these brutal thugs became celebrities, rubbing shoulders with politicians and world-famous entertainers. The twins were even photographed by David Bailey, but the publicity did not work well with their activities.
I think you’ll agree with me when I say that any glorification of real-life brutal murderers is very questionable. And some previous depictions of the Kray Twins would certainly be guilty of doing this. However, Legend succeeds in getting the story across whilst providing an extremely unnerving experience. Yes, we do see the excessive lifestyle achieved but the character performances portray a thoroughly unlikeable group of thugs who ultimately destroy themselves.
The best part of the film Legend is the outstanding performance from the lead Tom Hardy. You really do not want to miss this legendary display. Hardy plays both twins, which is something that few actors can pull off. Peter Sellers did in Dr. Strangelove and for me, Hardy shows just how big a talent he is taking on this unbelievable task. Let me clarify, the Kray twins were very different characters, Ronnie was committed to a mental asylum for instance, whilst Reggie was seen as a little sharper. So to create these two formidable characters at once is nothing short of genius and he thoroughly deserved Best actor from The British independent Film Awards 2015.
Yes, the performance by Tom Hardy does eclipse the rest of the cast somewhat. However, this does not mean that the rest of the cast is weak. There is a great supporting cast, with Taron Egerton, Christopher Eccleston, David Thewlis, Paul Bettany and Chazz Palminteri. But a real standout is Emily Browning who plays Frances Shea, Reggie's love interest and first wife but also narrates the story too.
But that's not all, Brian Helgeland does a great job providing the screenplay and directing Legend. Helgeland has won an Academy Award for LA Confidential and displays his great skills here too. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying this film is Oscar material. But, it certainly succeeds in providing something totally unique that stays with you long after the film has finished.
I think it's fair to say, that this is not a film for the weak hearted. The Krays ruled over the criminal underworld of London in a brutal and violent way. Therefore you can expect some shocking scenes throughout. Also, one of the twins Ronnie was psychotic and Brian Helgeland does not hold back in his portrayal of the man.
All in all though, if you like a good gangster story then Legend is a good choice. Particularly as it is based on true events. The overall style of the film provides a solid cinematic experience. But it is very much worth seeing the spectacular performance of Tom Hardy, who really steals the show. Well worth a watch.