Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
Cast: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Taron Egerton, Paul Bettany, David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston, Colin Morgan, Paul Anderson, Aneurin Barnard, Chazz Palminteri, Tara Fitzgerald, Kevin McNally, Charley Palmer Rothwell, Sam Hoare, Shane Attwooll, Samantha Pearl, Jane Wood, John Sessions.
There was nothing glamorous about the Krays, not in the strictest sense of the word and yet they held the East End of London in such a thrall that glamour took on a completely different meaning. It was physical allure of charm personified to an area of London that had been treated for too long as the personal plaything of the destructive and warped; so why should the Swinging Sixties be any different.
Celebrated status is born out of the extraordinary in such times and Legend doesn’t shy away the bruises, the kicks, the brutal or the sheer insanity that the Krays brought to London and is arguably the finest film to date to deal with that period. Not only does the audience believe that Tom Hardy is capable of playing both Ronnie and Reggie Kray but that he does it with in depth, honesty and gravitas, illuminating the screen with a sense of unrestricted freedom that has the viewer both wincing at the uncontrolled nature but also revelling in the sense of history that was going down.
Famous for being infamous, Legend seems to capture it all and with frightening precision where it concerns the madness of Ronnie Kray, Reggie Kray’s doomed wife Frances and the fear in the establishment at the time, especially in the superb cameo by Kevin McNally as Harold Wilson.
Where Tom Hardy brings gravitas to the role, the sense of the beguiling that enraptured the East-End, in Emily Browning, the terror at the hands of dealing with a psychopath brother-in-law and the prospect of never escaping a man who had wooed her with good intentions but ultimately empty promises, was a role in which, whilst perhaps more difficult to convey that Mr. Hardy’s double role, was played with keen fascination.
With David Thewlis’ flawless performance as the Kray banker Leslie Payne and Christopher Eccleston’s dogged portrayal of the man who chased the twins with steely determination, Nipper Read, Legend has it all.
Any lengthy stay in the East End, any sojourn past the Tower of London for a period of time and immersing yourself into the history of one of the most violent and at times crime infested and brutal areas of the U.K. with people who are the salt of the Earth, will show that the Krays weren’t just legends, that the myths weren’t just true, they frighteningly and terrifyingly true.
An impeccable film, one of the finest of 2015!
Ian D. Hall