Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Film Review: "Legend" (2015).

The tagline of the film reads "The notorious true story of the Kray twins", and this is the exact story that Legend unfolds. This British crime thriller, written and directed by Brian Helgeland; based on the book The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins by John Pearson. The film tells the story of the identical twin gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray, two of the most notorious criminals in British history, and their organised crime empire in the East End of London during the 1960s.

"London in the 1960s, everyone had a story about the Krays. They were twins. Reggie was a gangster prince of East End, Ronnie Kray was a one-man mob." And indeed they were,  twin brothers Ronald "Ronnie" Kray and Reginald "Reggie" Kray were English gangsters who were the foremost perpetrators of organised crime in the East End of London during the 1950s and 1960s. With their gang, the Firm, the Krays were involved in armed robberies, arson, protection rackets, assaults, and the murders of Jack "the Hat" McVitie and George Cornell. As West End nightclub owners, they mixed with politicians and prominent entertainers such as Diana Dors, Frank Sinatra, and Judy Garland. The Krays were much feared within their milieu; in the 1960s, they became celebrities, even being photographed by David Bailey and interviewed on television. However, in the end, they were arrested on 9 May 1968 and convicted in 1969, by the efforts of detectives led by Detective Superintendent Leonard "Nipper" Read. Both were sentenced to life imprisonment. Ronnie remained in Broadmoor Hospital until his death on 17 March 1995; Reggie was released from prison on compassionate grounds in August 2000, eight weeks before his death from cancer.

The film stars Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Christopher Eccleston, Paul Bettany, Colin Morgan, David Thewlis, Tara Fitzgerald, and Taron Egerton. The cast gave top-notch performances, especially the man who played the infamous twins - Hardy, and the woman who tried to hold one of them together - Browning. Hardy is startlingly off-kilter, his performance a veritable textbook example of juxtaposing and complex brilliance. Browning gave a terrific performance as the sweet and fragile Frances Shea. But it was in her fragility that she shined most of all and allowed us to empathise with her the most out of all the characters.

Legend is an intense psychological drama which confronts familiar preoccupations of this kind of film - the sweet rise and bitter fall , mortality, the power struggle between the sanity and insanity. Even though these preoccupations have been done-and-dusted with multiple films before it. However, Helgeland, who has begun to emerge as a writer of gangster tales, clearly understands that a small amount of psychological mischief can make this film more unnerving than the conventional grisly crime pictures. In a weird variation of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde theme, the Krays are drawn relentlessly and frighteningly towards an inevitable and appalling fate. Hardy gives a highly accomplished performance in a chilly East-end London gangster psychodrama that remains among some of the star's greatest roles.

Simon says Legend receives:

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