Best New Movies

Legend – Film Review


Legend – Review by C.K. MacNamara

Director: Brian Helgeland

Writer: Brian Helgeland, John Pearson (book)

Starring: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Taron Egerton

A paranoid schizophrenic walk into a bar.

Bristling with all the old school charm of Sergio Leone and Scorsese, Legend heralds the shining return of sanity and style to an abused genre; a gangster tale that an armchair mobster can be proud of.

Based on the story of the Kray twins, London’s most iconic legitimate businessmen of the 1960’s and the influence their network of Sinatra clubs and East End dives gave them over London’s political and criminal elite, the plot follows the usual rise and fall story arc of the gangster big timer, complete with abusive marriage and themes of morality. This otherwise by the numbers script is shined with Helgeland’s signature style to a 24 carat showcase of 60s flair and shadowy Noire; a world of starry eyed girls and Vince Vega lookalikes, where any argument can be settled with clockwork orange-esque violence and cups of tea.

Tom Hardy takes the ambitious risk of playing both protagonists, a gimmick that rarely works; either the two characters are rarely on screen simultaneously or if they are the screen tear is atrocious. Legend is the exception, and Hardy goes full Groucho Marx for the sake of the role, to the point the characters themselves barely resemble twins, let alone the same man. Wielding horn rimmed glasses and a double chin, Hardy’s role of Ron Kray is a performance to relish, as he garbles an angry shower of menacing quotes and spit past a pair of ludicrous false teeth.

The novelty of Hardy playing both the stoically sensible Reggy and the schizophrenic Ron shines during the latter parts of the plot, where Reggie is forced to watch from a prison cell as his fledgling empire is squandered by Ron’s paranoid need for secrecy and violence.

Any keen eyed fan of the genre will relish the spectrum of substance Helgeland draws from; a blend of Scorsese, an ounce of Guy Ritchie and a sheen of early era Scarface, all under the guidance of a Director who has mastered his craft. The result is a film beyond the sum of its parts, and combined with Hardy’s stellar performance in both roles, Legend shines alongside the gangster hall of famers – and earns its spot as a contemporary classic.


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