Much as with the protagonist he portrayed in BRONSON (2008) you wouldn’t want to spend an evening with Reggie and Ronnie Kray, but you’d gladly be in the company of the mesmerising Tom Hardy as he plays both Kray twins.

Narrated by Reggie’s wife Frances Shea (Emily Browning), Brian Helgeland’s excellent LEGEND bursts into 1960s East London. Rather than showing the rise of the infamous Kray twins, done so well by Peter Medak in THE KRAYS (1990), Helgeland plants us in the middle of their reign. Reggie and Ronnie, fittingly dressed to kill and motoring around in slick cars, are becoming the gangster supremos of London. Yet the higher they climb, the more attention they collect from the police, politicians, crime firms from South London and the New York Mafia.

They’re ready for the next step up, but Ronnie is certified insane, which gives Reggie a challenging job of balancing business, his relationship with Frances, keeping out of prison, and his brother’s psychotic behaviour. Ronnie seems the more frightening brother, craving murder and fear; yet as the film rolls on Reggie appears the more terrifying, because he understands right from wrong, and is aware of his actions, making him the far scarier of the two.

… look out for the lovely nod to Martin Scorsese’s GOODFELLAS.

Helgeland has penned some great films before this one: L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (1997) and MYSTIC RIVER (2003), to name just two. Here he writes and directs. At the pre-screening discussion Helgeland talked about wrestling with picking a leading man to play one character; this would have limited choices for the second actor, as they would need to resemble the first. After a dinner with Tom Hardy he knew he had both his characters in one actor.

Other stars have played twins before: famously, Jeremy Irons in DEAD RINGERS (1988) and Nicolas Cage in ADAPTATION (2002). Hardy matches the high standard set before him. In LEGEND his ability to evoke two distinct characters borders on sublime. Both have a different tone of voice, different stance, stare, hand gestures, facial features and expressions, so much so that halfway in you suspend disbelief and see two actors. To help achieve this acting masterclass some exceptional special effects are on show. No longer is it the simple single shot of one twin and then the second shot of the other, both never conducted in the same frame. LEGEND has raised the (crow)bar, displaying contact between the characters to such a degree that a brutal fight sequence between Reggie and Ronnie appears to be completely authentic.

LEGEND is a fantastic film with a funny script; the acting and special effects are amazing. Also, look out for the lovely nod to Martin Scorsese’s GOODFELLAS (1990).


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