Published Sep 14, 2015Please note that only capsule reviews are authorized for this title until its theatrical release.
There have been innumerable entries into the gangster genre — one would think there was little territory left to explore. Yet writer/director Brian Helgeland has achieved unique singularity with his directorial debut, Legend.
Legend tells the vibrant story of identical twins, Reggie and Ronnie Kray, two of Britain's most infamous gangsters, who ruled over the London underworld at the height of the swinging '60s. When they weren't busy losing their respective heads to bursts of ruthlessness, Reggie and Ronnie were pictures of mod cool, although, much to his brother's growing concern, the sociopathic Ronnie was an especially loose cannon.
That Reggie and Ronnie are both portrayed by Tom Hardy is stupefying on a few levels. In terms of effects, it's safe to say this is one of the finest jobs of an actor performing as his own scene partner ever achieved. Hardy deserves a standing ovation for his simultaneous embodiment of the twins, providing both characters with nuanced distinctness and behavioural realism. Emily Browning, who plays Florence, Reggie's love interest, as well as the film's narrator, meets Hardy's talent head on as the gangster's law-abiding flame.
The film is tightly paced and brimming with rich character, thanks to Brian Helgeland's excellent script — one worthy of the success of his Oscar winning take on James Elroy's L.A. Confidential.
Just as Elroy was so adept at offering fresh windows into historical crime fiction, Legend is tonally thrilling, funny and, for a two-plus-hour film, extremely entertaining.