Tom Hardy stars as both Ronnie and Reggie Kray, the notorious gangsters who ruled the East End during the 1960’s.
The presence of both Tom Hardy and Paul “Arthur Shelby” Anderson in the cast list goes some way to prepare you for the approach taken whilst painting this portrait of the criminal underbelly of the swinging sixties; namely a Peaky Blinders style combination of retro fashion, pop music and glamorised violence. There is clearly plenty of good source material in the story of identical twins, one psychotic and one rather more business-like who formed ties with both the American Mafia and scandalised establishment aristocracy, but its treatment at the hands of writer-director Brian Helgeland is rather misjudged. The fact that the “legendary” incident to which the film’s name refers is a thug walking into a bar and shooting a man in the head in front of seven witnesses pays testament to this. Telling the story from the point of view of Reggie’s late wife Frances is gimmicky and serves only to highlight just how clumsily pretentious the dialogue can be, and there is not one character with any hint of charm or charisma. It does have its moments – mainly provided by the volatile and unpredictable behaviour of Ronnie – but these are despite Tom Hardy’s overly affected performance rather than because of it.
Legend remains watchable because of its roots as a true life story but The Bank Job did something similar with far more style and wit.