The story is told by Frances Shea, the girlfriend of Reggie. Shea repeatedly tries to get Reggie out of the life he is in, but the allure of the lifestyle and his loyalty to his brother win out.
Further complicating things is Ronnie’s declining mental health, with increasing paranoia and hare-brained business ideas. Reggie struggles between his allegiance to his brother and trying to keep the business afloat in the face of his brother’s mismanagement.
As we’ve come to expect, Tom Hardy knocks it out of the park, with two great performances. The small differences Hardy employs to distinguish the twins are successful in making them seem like two totally different people, although alike enough for us to believe they are brothers. The minute changes he makes in body language do wonders.
Although Legend is mostly a drama, there are several successful comedic moments, which make the characters more endearing.
Emily Browning does alright as Frances Shea, but her character seems dull next to Hardy’s. It is clear that this film is a Tom Hardy vehicle, and in that respect it is successful, but it doesn’t work as well as the gritty gangster biopic it is trying to be.
The Kray brothers ran a small criminal empire, yet we only see a few scenes of them actually being gangsters. Our introduction to them in a bar fight is a step in the right direction, but the rest of the film is about the relationship with Shea, which is not as interesting.
What makes movie gangsters so interesting is their combination of charisma and brutality, but Legend only focusses on the charisma.
You get the feeling that Hardy can put this film on his resume with more pride than director Brian Helgeland can.
If Martin Scorsese had directed, Legend could have been something really special. Alas, if it hadn’t been for Hardy’s amazing performance, Legend would have already been forgotten.