Tom Hardy plays both the Kray twins. Ronnie and Reggie were notorious East End of London gangsters who ruled the underworld during the 1950s and 1960s.
They rose from the boxing rings to great levels of club ownership and control. At a time when life was hard and most people were poor, they brought a bit of high living to the area.
I live in the East End. There is a great movie to be made about the real-life Krays. This isn’t it and neither is the Martin and Gary Kemp biopic of 1990.
But “Legend” does feature an absolutely amazing performance by Tom Hardy, who is fantastic. I have no idea who he is playing – not the Krays – but it’s fun to watch him being whoever he is, here.
Everything looks great – living rooms are almost painted on the screen with love and they are full of correct period detail. Clubs ooze style and beautiful people.
The love story between Reggie and Frances (Emily Browning) is sweetly portrayed, albeit not very accurately. That tale is at the centre of this film.
Lots of people are still alive who knew the Krays and I’ve heard stories from people who worked for them. The Krays were terribly violent yet they are still loved around here as Robin Hood figures who brought a lot of good to others, as long as you didn’t cross them.
The casting is wonderful, with Christopher Eccleston, Chazz Palminteri and David Thewlis all having great moments. Jane Wood is almost thrown away as mother Violet Kray and that’s just plain wrong.
Stratford East Picturehouse was very full and the 130-minute running time felt about 20 minutes too long.
It’s entertaining and has lots of detail that will please American audiences as you get the Mafia thrown into the mix. A few good lines about government scandals and then-illegal homosexuality are also provocative and interesting.
But the Krays? Legend? No. Please can someone make an accurate film about the Krays? The true stories are much more interesting and screen-worthy than these attempts to lure Oscar to British actors.