Bound together by blood, and a penchant for violence and crime, identical twin gangsters Ronald and Reginald Kray both ruled and terrorised London during the 1950s and 1960s. In Legend, director Brian Helgeland brings their infamous story to life, creating an action-packed thrill ride that cements Tom Hardy’s place as a leading man to be reckoned with. Here’s five reasons to watch Legend.
5. Everybody Has A Story About The Krays
‘Club owning’ gangster twins Ronnie and Reggie Kray were the kings of London’s East End during the 1960s, and director Brian Helgeland takes this into account with this dramatic masterpiece. His eye for detail is phenomenal, keeping everything in line with historical accuracy, including the fact that the Kray’s would routinely hold their meetings at their mum’s house where they could indulge in a good ol’cup of tea. It’s details like this that really brings the film to life, and intricately lures audiences to invest in the life of the notorious gangsters.
4. Gangster Flair
While there’s been some stiff competition in cinema this year when it comes to slick costuming and impressive set design (The Man from U.N.C.L.E. springs to mind), Legend holds its own in the style stakes. From Savile Row suits and Chanel dresses, to the classic cars and glamourous nightclubs, the film’s art direction is something to be applauded.
3. Brian Helgeland: A Director In Control
Brian Helgeland is one of Hollywood’s greatest talents. The Academy Award winning screenwriter is one of the best wordsmiths in the business (L.A. Confidential, A Knight’s Tale, Man On Fire), not to mention an impressive director (42). However, Legend has really given Helgeland a chance to stretch his legs, having crafted what will undoubtedly become the new standard for gangster pictures. Helgeland’s direction and story structure is solid, drawing audiences in and leading them through this glamourous gangster life, while carefully weaving in crucial aspects of its seedy underbelly.
2. An East Eden Love Story
Part of what makes Legend such an entertaining and original gangster film is that it’s not framed as one. Instead, Helgeland tells his story through the voice of Frances Kray, the ingenue wife of Reggie Kray who is played by the delightful Emily Browning. While at first Frances finds herself in an East End gangster fairy tale, she soon learns about the terror and blood that has been shed to build it. Hardy and Browning’s chemistry is a compelling watch, and while the classic romantic tropes are certainly put to use, their character’s love story never prevents the plot from moving forward.
1. The Two-Faced Tom Hardy
Tom Hardy has reached a new career high with his portrayal of both Ronnie and Reggie Kray. A calm, dapper yet calculating gangster who desires respect above notoriety, Reggie Kray is a character we can’t take our eyes off. In Hardy’s capable hands, Reggie becomes someone we want to see at the top of the food chain despite his flaws. It’s too bad that his brother and partner in crime is a psychotic, mentally ill, and aggressively violent gangster that could ruin everything. Hardy’s portrayal of Ronnie is both masterful and wonderfully terrifying, and will be remembered for years to come.
Legend will be released in cinemas on October 8.
Image source: Studio Canal.