My feelings towards Legend are best summed up by its two main characters, Reggie and Ronny Kray. The movie is as charming and fun to watch as Reggie is, as he swaggers down the streets he owns, but just like Ronny, the movie is unhinged and lacks the ability to live up to its potential. The movie lifts you up and shows you the best at what it has to offer with some great acting and stylistic direction. But then it comes back down when you notice the inconsistent characters and dodgy scripting. The movie is a fun time and I definitely recommend it, but just like the life of a gangster, it comes with its downsides.
Our story follows the Kray Brothers, Reggie and Ronny, as they slowly build up their crime empire in London. Reggie is the more slick and charming of the two, with an eye on growing the business and becoming better then where they grew up, while Ron is the more violent of the two and misses the rough and tumble days of their beginning.
As the business grows, Reggie becomes more distracted with his new girlfriend Frances, and Ronny becomes more and more of a damaging presence to the empire as a whole. There are ups and downs to each man and the business suffers and excels and this is where the movie really succeeds. The film is a lot of fun to watch. It is great to watch Reggie build up this empire through his smooth talking and strategy and it is equally as entertaining to see Ronny tear things apart. The interplay between the brothers is great, with Reggie showing his unflinching belief in his brother no matter what he has done, but as the movie goes on, we see his patience dwindle and start to dissipate as Ronny continues to ruin everything he has built up.
Tom Hardy is definitely one of the films’ biggest strengths, along with its stylized direction, making the 50s and 60s come to life before our eyes. The bright colours and production design create an amazing representation of London and the cinematography uses that to full effect, giving us a great looking film.
But not all in this movie is a glamorous as the city. Frances, who becomes a very important character, feels very underwritten and little more than a tool for conflict and character growth for Reggie. It would have been nice if she had more to do considering that Emily Browning does a fantastic job as Frances. The script also can’t really make up its mind about Ronny. Depending on the scene, Ronny is either a crazed lunatic with no sense of social norms, or he is a pretty normal and polite person going about his business. I understand the need for Ron to be both these kinds of characters, but it feels as if the film only really nails a nice middle a few times, but then just flips back and forth from extremes.
But in the end, this movie is a fun ride. With great performances from Hardy and the supporting cast, Legend succeeds in its goal of making these two men legends. It will not be forgotten by me anytime soon because when it hits the nail, it hits it hard.