Tom Hardy is literally a one man show playing two roles in the new film Legend. Based on real life gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray, Hardy takes on the job of portraying the twin brothers who ran amok in the criminal underbelly of East London in the early 1960s. The two brothers were both criminals, yet very different which allows Hardy to shine playing the straight man and the wild card simultaneously on-screen.
The lead role in Legend would be considered Reggie, the more level-headed of the two siblings who sees himself as something better than just your average gangster intimidating associates into unwanted business deals. Even though he has found a nice girl named Frances (Emily Browning who also serves as the narrator), he can’t escape the life. Hardy does a great job as a man who can’t hide from what he is deep down inside. The Mad Max actor does a nice job showing the full transformation of Reggie going from a guy trying to go legit into a cold-blooded criminal. Hardy plays it suave and cool as Reggie, but where Hardy really excels is depicting loose cannon Ronnie Kray.
Hardy’s Reggie may be the focus of Legend, but the intriguing character in the film is Ronnie, Reggie’s unhinged homosexual gangster twin brother also played by Hardy. Ronnie is a complete lunatic with no disregard for manners, human life or his lifestyle which was deemed vulgar by London standards at the time. Every time Hardy is on-screen as Ronnie, you’re on the edge of your seat waiting for him to explode. Out of the two roles Hardy embodies, Ronnie is where the actor stands out with his work bringing this real life powder keg of violence to life.
Hardy is outstanding juggling the two roles, but Legend can’t decide if it wants to be a film about the two brothers unique relationship, a love story with Reggie and Frances or a straight up gangster film. The gangster aspect is all but ignored for the most part with none of the twins organized crime methods detailed, which would have been interesting since most American audience members aren’t familiar with these twin menaces from across the pond. The love story is forced and told through the narrative which becomes silly by the end of the film without spoiling too much.
None of the storylines blend together well and the only thing holding Legend together is the outstanding work done by Hardy. The main focus seems to be the relationship between the brothers and their lust for power. With all the other plot lines, this story becomes convoluted and the audience isn’t able to settle down with one general plot line. Unfortunately, the superb acting job by Hardy is the only thing that makes Legend worth watching.
Overall, I give Legend 2.75 out of 4 stars.