Tom Hardy twice over can’t stop me from feeling a little disappointed and slightly uncomfortable with Legend. Brian Helgeland’s inconsistent bio-pic loosely addresses the truths and replaces any genuine attempt to get under the skin of bleak reign of The Krays with a film that looks more what Football Factory would have done with a bigger budget.
First thing’s first, this is an entertaining film. Do not get me wrong. Hardy’s performance(s) as the two Krays was unbelievable. I sat waiting for the moment he/they would appear on-screen together, side by side, to see the image trickery at work. This element of the film, did not disappoint. It surpassed expectation as Hardy was able to churn out two equally brilliant roles, subtly different in appearance but so very different in characters.
The problem I have lies with the light-hearted nature of the film itself. The Krays were notorious gangsters, not known for torturing people but known for extortion, assaults, protection and money laundering. Part-pretending to be Night Club owners, they were under constant surveillance by the police, but for many years managed to get away with anything they wanted to. These are deplorable characters, and no doubt there are many anti-heroes in film today, but these people were real. So, where was the bleakness? Why so much humour?
Ronnie, an openly gay man, mentally unstable and declared criminally insane, was portrayed as comic relief to the awful acts going on around him. He arranges orgies for political figures with young boys, beats people up with hammers and yet with a simple one liner, all is forgiven and forgotten. Blissfully unaware of the repercussions of his actions, he is the one individual we should feel genuinely sorry for as he doesn’t know any better.
Reggie came across as a suave cockney, he seemed to have his head screwed on but when the time came to it he was equally as bad. His actions were almost excused regularly, as he just threw more money and comedic one-liners at everyone and all of a sudden he’s a cheeky chappy again. Oddly, we’re made to feel sorry for him, and yet he was the one thinking straight.
Framed with some awful narration by Reggie Krays wife played by Emily Browning (who aside from that was very good), and poor stock saxaphone ‘noises’ as the soundtrack, Legend almost outstayed its welcome. Loose facts, dubious series of events, inappropriate comedy, and (at times) unintelligible dialogue; this light-hearted and frankly watered-down approach to The Krays has been saved by one mans ability to play two characters at once.
It’s great fun, extremely entertaining, if not a little uncomfortable to absorb.