Legend doubles the Tom Hardys: movie review

Tom Hardy as Ronald and Reginald Kray.
Tom Hardy as Ronald and Reginald Kray.

THE promotional material is making a big deal of the fact we get two Tom Hardys for the price of one with this true gangster story.

He dominates the trailer and gets double billing on the posters for his performances as the notorious Kray twins Ronald and Reginald, but it is Australia’s Emily Browning that emerges as the breakthrough actor in the role of long-suffering wife.

The charming but dangerous Reginald (Hardy) woos Frances (Browning) in the 1960s as his criminal enterprise in London is on the rise.

After a stint in jail, he promises her he will clean up his act but he always breaks that promise, while negotiating the increasingly erratic behaviour of his openly gay brother Ronald (Hardy).

Hardy is solid in both roles, though skirts dangerously close to caricature with Ronald, as if the goofy ‘60s spectacles aren’t silly looking enough he employs many eccentric mannerisms in this particular performance.

Browning’s performance is the one that lingers in the memory, with her role often taking centre stage while the twins slink to the back.

Writer/director Brian Helgeland employs a refreshing storytelling technique, filming from Frances’ point of view which allows more access to the characters than most gangster films, which usually treat these roles as eye candy.

We may get more Hardy for our buck, but Legend is more than just his performances.

Come for Hardy but stay for Browning and Helgeland’s cracker of a script and direction.

THE ESSENTIALS

Legend (MA)

Directed by: Brian Helgeland

Starring: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning

Four stars

Review by: Julian Wright

In cinemas now.