Film Review: Legend

In association with The Grovesnor 


There’s only one thing better than Tom Hardy as the lead in an upcoming gritty film, and that’s two of him. But don’t be blinded by his good looks and ballsy, diamond-in-the-rough, charisma, or you risk the same ill-fate as his seemingly weak, love-struck wife, Franie. We are talking about the two most dangerous men in 1960s London, bullies of the East End criminal underworld. Legend incites a type of adoration, a righteous glamorisation of what is essentially a shopping list of various criminal acts, which is to an extent, inappropriate. In what world is a man who exerts fear in his local neighbourhood, a ‘legend’? In Brian Helgeland’s defence, the actual definition of ‘legend’; a ‘traditional story on a notorious individual’, is lost on a modern-day audience. The definition has evolved, and this should have been considered.

However, it would be unfair to judge a film simply on its title, so I went ahead and saw it anyway.

There is no end to Hardy’s effortless acting prowess, and as a fan of Bronson, I was always going in optimistic; especially when set against a range of great actors, from movie veteran Paul Bettany, to newcomer Taron Egerton. However, I was less impressed with the wooden, victim-like Frances Shea (Emily Browning). Surely Mrs Kray was no shrinking violet. Browning’s portrayal paints a weak and naïve Franie, which fails to address what was effectively a battle with mental illness, something her family have since been compelled to criticise, ( A stronger lead female role set against Ronnie and Reggie, and a more realistic portrayal of Frances – the‘drug-taking wild child’ – would seem a more fitting proposition.

The heavy focus on Ronnie Kray’s sexuality throughout the film detracts from the film’s discourse. And I question why this is presented as such a detrimental part of his character. Homosexuality is presented humorously, as a kind of quirk in an eccentric personality, affiliated closely with Ronnie’s mental instabilities, which some viewers may find offensive.

Aside from Helgeland’s sketchy dealings with the ‘taboos’ of feminism, homosexuality and mental illness, the film’s incredible cinematography, great casting, and good soundtrack render it highly entertaining. Although the film does not take itself too seriously, its climactic pinnacle sees a compelling emotional high between the two brothers that simply cannot be ignored.

In terms of overall plot, the film would have benefitted from a particular direction, following a specific event or case in the Kray twins’ Yellow Book atrocities, as opposed to a loose plot of general happenings. Despite Legend’s obvious flaws, Tom Hardy’s menacing performance is one to watch and cannot be forgotten in a hurry.

[Serena Ruberto]

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