“I come here for a fucking shootout. A proper shootout with some proper men. Like Colonel Custer and Geronimo, you ever heard of them?”
Over the last few years, Tom Hardy has made a habit of not only picking great movies, but also insisting on being the best thing in them. Even in a mess likeThe Dark Knight Rises, Hardy’s Bane was a big part of what made it watchable. He somehow managed to outshine James Gandolfini in The Drop and was a one man powerhouse in Bronsan. Even when taking a back seat to Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road, his take on the titular character still made sure it was a Mad Max movie. He is possibly my favourite actor to have emerged in the last decade. So when I heard there was a movie with double the Hardy, I knew I had to see Legend.
Reg Kray (Hardy) is the king of East End crime in 60s London. He owns a successful casino and meets the perfect girl next door (Emily Browning as Frances). Reg’s literal partner in crime is his identical twin brother, Ronnie (also Hardy). With the aid of a little strong arming, the certifiably insane Ron is released from a mental hospital after an assault charge and is back by his brother’s side in time to fight off an attack from rival London gangsters.
But threats against the Kray empire grow when the American mafia decides that London is the new Vegas, and try to muscle in. Combined with Reg being forced to serve time for an old warrant and the unhinged Ron being left in charge, things get unstable for their criminal organisation, and the brother’s own relationship with each other.
To say that Legend got mixed reviews on release would be an understatement. And as much as I really, really liked it, I can’t really argue with the misgivings some critics had. It’s kind of flashy in a way that glorifies these terrible people and their terrible actions. But what I would argue with, is anyone who has anything even slightly negative to say about Hardy’s duel performance. The movie separates the two Krays by making Reggie suave, confident and handsome. While Ron has dorky glasses, bad teeth and a voice that sounds like his nose is perpetually blocked.
But I think Hardy is so good and so distinct as both brothers, he doesn’t need any of those surface level affectations to help the audience tell the difference. He puts off such a strong and distinct vibe, I reckon he could be dressed and made up exactly the same, and before he said a single word, it would be clear which Kray was which.
Legend lived up to everything I wanted it be. A couple of hours of Tom Hardy owning every single scene of the movie. Often owning it twice as two different characters sharing the same shot. I get the criticisms, it is kind of cartoonish and over the top in its depictions of cockneys, the 60s and organised crime. It does kind of glorify these terrible people and their terrible actions. But like the The Wolf of Wall Street, I think all of that excess is kind of the point. The glitz and glamour only work to highlight these people at their worst. And I loved every single second of it.