Evil twin brothers aren’t just horror cliches, but actual, real life things?
Reggie and Ronald Kray (Tom Hardy) are literally identical twins who couldn’t be anymore different. Well, actually, that’s a lie. While they both handle themselves in certain public, as well as business situations differently, they both share the same love and need for violence, money and power. However, despite this shared interest, Reggie and Ronald don’t always see eye-to-eye. Reggie is the more calm, understated one of the two, whereas Ronald is clearly mentally-challenged, awkward and a nervous-wreck. While Reggie knows that his brother is a dangerous nut case to have around, he’s still, after all, his brother. That means that, no matter what idiotic, downright evil mistakes Ronald makes, Reggie always sticks to his brother’s side. Even though by doing so, it not only costs him respect, his marriage to his sweetheart Frances (Emily Browning), and his sanity, Reggie continues to stay at his brother’s side. Eventually though, all of this gets to be a bit overbearing for Reggie and it soon starts to ruin just about every aspect of his life; which isn’t something that’s happening to Ronald because, quite frankly, he’s not all that there to begin with.
There truly is an interesting movie to be made about the notorious Kray Twins, and some of it can be found in Legend. While the movie runs 131 minutes, there’s at least an hour and five minutes of a movie that realizes it’s dealing with two ultra-violent, twisted gangsters who, believe it or not, just so happened to be identical twins. The other half of the movie, well, thinks it’s something a whole lot more serious and melodramatic which, really, it doesn’t need to be.
But before I go any further it should be noted that no matter where Legend goes, or what it tries to do, Tom Hardy is nothing short of amazing.
This may come as no surprise to anyone who has been seeing the evolution of Tom Hardy’s career as he’s went from small, British character actor, to huge, charismatic, fun and lively leading-man who’s not only great-looking, but also can command the screen. And as both of the Kray twins, Hardy is given the rough task of having to play two different characters, while simultaneously making us believe that we’re not just watching Tom Hardy act as twins and get past some of the camera-trickery that director Brian Helgeland pulls off. This is all made harder by the fact that, personalities aside, the only discernible physical traits that separate the two from one another is that Ronald wears glasses, and Reggie doesn’t.
But still, Hardy’s more than up to the challenge and making these characters feel entirely separate from one another. Though, perhaps what helps Hardy out the most is that Ronald is a whole lot more sadistic and over-the-top than Reggie, which means that Hardy has an absolute blast with this role. Every time Ronald’s in the movie, he’s constantly saying weird stuff, making everybody around him generally uncomfortable, and always making it seem like if someone were to say something that ticked him off ever so slightly, it would just set him off into a rage where anyone and everyone were in danger of losing their lives, or a limb with a hammer. Hardy makes this character, although fun and entertaining to watch, genuinely scary as you never know when the light in his head is going to set off.
This is also to say that Ronald, the character, is also all the more interesting and probably the best part of the movie.
Not only was he a gangster who was, in a day and age when this was never even talked about, openly gay, clearly mentally challenged, but at the same time, still sophisticated enough that he could handle on a conversation with just about anyone. Sure, those conversations tended to get weird and awkward, but they still shed some insight into just how this man thought and what he brought to the gangster world. Honestly, I wouldn’t have much rather seen a film about him, rather than been bothered so much with Reggie’s life, but sadly, this isn’t really the movie we get.
Instead, we see Reggie’s life play out, as he not only meets the love of his life, gets married, and continues to try and stay alive and prosperous in the gangster world. It’s a pretty conventional story-line that most gangster flicks in the same vein and while it can sometimes work because Browning and Hardy are good together, here, considering the interest and excitement level there is Ronald, it tends to just bring the rest of the film down. Not to mention that we didn’t really even need a voice-over from Browning’s character practically the whole time, especially since she just tends to spell everything out that we can clearly see on the screen, happening in front of us.
But still, there are bits and pieces of Legend that are fun and show that Helgeland did set-out to make an entertaining gangster flick.
However, they’re mostly concerning Ronald, which makes just about everything that doesn’t concern him, uninteresting and seem like a waste of time. Not to mention that, like I said before, the movie is over two hours and starts to feel like it when the movie loses focus and instead, just wants to give us more scenes to sit, gaze and wonder how and why there is someone as talented as Tom Hardy in the movie world.
Which definitely is a good question to ask because, yes, Tom Hardy is a great actor and so is everyone else who pops up here. Paul Bettany, Taron Egerton, Christopher Eccelston, David Thewlis, and Chazz Palminteri all show up to do their actorly things and make Legend appear to be more than just a huge showcase for the talents of Hardy. Once again, that’s fine and all, but why isn’t the movie better?
Consensus: There’s no denying that Tom Hardy is great and a force to be reckoned with in Legend, but there’s also no denying that the movie he’s in is a bit messy, boring, and most of all, uninterested in probably what would have made the movie more of a compelling watch.
6 / 10