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Reggie and Ronnie Kray, are twin gangsters who ruled London’s underworld in the 1960s. Reggie is the smooth, charismatic one without glasses; Ronnie is the bespectacled psychopath. It’s the proudest day of Reggie Kray’s life. He is standing in the church, waiting for his young bride Frances to walk down the aisle. His brother Ronnie is alongside him. The bespectacled Ronnie is a little taller and more thickset than his brother. They are identical twins but we can easily tell them apart. This is a scene from halfway through Brian Helgeland’s new film. What makes the scene and the film so startling is that both Reggie and Ronnie are played by the same actor, Tom Hardy (Mad Max Fury Road). Hardy is outstanding in his dual role. His Ronnie is menacing, psychotic but also comic. He can be every bit as intimidating as the actor’s villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises but he also chatters away like Peter Cook gossiping with Dudley Moore in the pub in one of his Derek and Clive sketches with Dudley Moore. “I’m ‘omosexual,” he tells his brother’s startled fiancée the first time he meets her in what passes for small talk. Reggie, meanwhile, is dapper, very soulful when he is sharing lemon sherbets with the beautiful young Frances (Emily Browning) but calculating when violence is called for. The story starts well into the Kray brothers’ criminal career. the director doesn’t bother with their East End childhood, their early days as boxers or their time spent behind bars during National Service. Their beloved mum Violet is barely glimpsed outside one or two scenes and the film features a ghostly voiceover from Frances (Emily Browning) which introduces us to the brothers grim when they are already in their 1960s pomp, with Reggie established as “the gangster prince of the East End” and Ronnie diagnosed as a violent schizophrenic. Legend is a biopic on a very lavish scale. The characters are British, the setting is London, but the film has the feel of an American gangster epic. In spite of all the bloodletting and violence, it is a very glossy film with a great soundtrack featuring the music of Burt Bacharach. Tom Hardy steals the movie which is very well done and entertaining.

Mated MA 15plus

8 out of 10

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