TIFF 2015 Review: Legend
Legend isn’t as grand as its name suggest; while it’s two central characters, played by the same talented actor may be larger than life, this period drama struggles to find a purpose other than retracing history.
Tom Hardy plays Reggie and Ronald Kray, distinct twins who ruled the London crime world in the 1960s. The former is the brains, savvy and affable; he says things like ‘being patient doesn’t get you what you want.’ The latter is a bespectacled mentally unstable powder keg, funny in his absurdity, frequently spouting aphorisms and clichés with confidence. The nature of their tense relationship – bounded by blood yet torn in business – goes up against the newfound love between Reggie and the young Frances (a formidable Emily Browning).
She narrates the film curiously, yet their romance isn’t quite passionate, though certainly attractive: his lips, her cheekbones, their eyes. Amid courtship, Reggie taunts dumb cops on the case, settles disputes with a rival gang, and tries to reign in his brother after getting him out of a mental facility.
All of this makes for an enjoyable watch, but one with more flair than substance. The problems facing these characters are in the inevitable but not the immediate: the erratic nature of Ronnie, and the push from Frances for Reggie to leave the world, while the world pulls him back in.
It’s a triumph of the ordinary; often funny and suddenly violent, with its main men alternating sympathetic and malevolent. Directed with steady tone and gray skies from Brian Helgeland, Legend lacks scope and import, but is held up by its impressive actors.