by | Nov 23, 2015 | 0 comments

An Uneven Film That Ends Up Being Another Forgettable Gangster Flick

Tom Hardy is quickly becoming one of the most heterogeneous actors in Hollywood today. He’s gone from playing villains and heroes in franchises (The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max: Fury Road), to the only actor on screen (Locke), and had his own Rocky moment (Warrior). In Legend, Hardy pulls on double duty and plays two characters at once, delving into the dying gangster genre. 

Legend takes on the true story of the Kray twins, who were merciless gangsters in London in the 1960s. Reginald “Reggie” Kray (Tom Hardy) is the more cunning and controlled of the brothers, and Ronald “Ronnie” Kray (Tom Hardy) is his homosexual ruthless sibling who is the loose cannon of the lot. Reggie soon starts going out with Francis (Emily Browning), the sister of one of his cronies. Ronnie meanwhile has one of his own minions Mad Teddy Smith (Kingsman’s Taron Egerton) as his sexual partner. The film starts out strong, with the expected gang fights and criminal dealings entertaining us for a good part of the first half. However, the film spins out of control so that you doubt if it can even end.

If you forgive me for doing so, I’m going to compare the film with its two main characters. The first half of the film is more like Reggie; it’s intense but controlled, charming, but realistic. The second half is very much like Ronnie, it doesn’t really know what it wants or how to get it, so it just resorts to violent outbursts and, what’s worse, no one seems to want to stop it. The first part is entertaining, with thrilling moments ranging from hit-and-runs, casino dealings, and public official extortion, reminding us and even rising to the level of the legendary (pun intended) gangster films like Casino, The Godfather, and Scarface. The second half, however, doesn’t have a goal or objective, so that it ends up being very much like the first half of Black Mass (another disappointing gangster flick from this year). I don’t what to blame incapability on the director, because it really was all about ambition. Screenwriter and director John Helgeland simply ran out of things to say, and it seems like the studio, or his own determination, forced him to stretch to story out like gum in order for it to seem like a gangster epic.

Thankfully we have Tom Hardy who fully distinguishes the two brothers, his own charisma and passion for being an actor is enough to carry us through. He has Ronnie provide some comic relief, and has Reggie anchor the emotional core of the story. Emily Browning also holds her own against such a dominant presence; she bridges the audience to the only rational character in the film. I was eager to see Taron Egerton, who broke out earlier this year as Eggsy in Kingsman and gave a great performance in the indie Testament of Youth, but in Legend he is extremely underused; he does makes himself heard when he’s given the time, but it’s not enough and the audience ends up wanting more, and it could perhaps have salvaged more quality.   

So in the end the film ends up being a forgettable gangster flick, there is a slight slimmer of hope with the first half, but like Black Mass, it proves taht the gangster genre seems to have been antiquated. 








What is your favorite Tom Hardy movie? Let me know in the comments section.

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