WRITTEN BY: Brian Helgeland
DIRECTED BY: Brian Helgeland
STARRING: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Taron Egerton, David Thewlis
RATING: 4 stars
Based on a true story and adapted from John Pearson's book, Legend chronicles the tumultuous lives of London's infamous East End gangster twins Reggie and Ronnie Kray during the 1960s. Paranoid schizophrenic Ronnie (Tom Hardy) is released from a psychiatric ward after his doctor is intimidated into declaring him sane. Meanwhile, Ron's twin Reggie (Tom Hardy) has been busily building a criminal empire while his brother has been locked up. Although they are hardened gangsters, the pair are loyal to each other. But when Ron's psychotic behaviour threatens to derail Reggie's plans, including his relationship with his business manager Leslie Payne (David Thewlis) and girlfriend Frances (Emily Browning), they start to lock horns about how to conduct their criminal activities.
Hardy is magnificent in both roles, cementing his place as one of the greatest actors of his generation. At no point does it feel like you are watching Tom Hardy, the actor. He totally embodies both villains and portrays them differently including their mannerisms, voices and quirks. Ron is unapologetic and unpredictable, while Reggie is more suave but equally violent. Browning is also impressive as Reggie's girlfriend who tries to get him to live a straight life. There were a lot of close-ups on her face, which was wonderfully expressive, and it was a great choice to make her the narrator of the story. Thewlis gives a grounded performance and Taron Egerton seems to relish his cheeky role as Ron's boyfriend. The fashion also looks fabulous, while the soundtrack is enjoyable and there are plenty of laughs throughout. The film's weakness is that it rushes to explain technical things like how the twins managed to work the legal system, but then drags on in some other areas like Frances' emotional difficulties. The film has a running time of more than two hours, which is a little too long, but watching Hardy perform is engrossing enough to sustain the audience's interest.