HOLLYWOOD—Portraying dual roles in a movie is no easy feat for an actor or actress in Hollywood. It can be done, but it requires the smallest nuances of characteristics to convey to the viewer that two independent characters exist even though doubles are being seen on the screen. Tom Hardy takes on that role to portray real-life gangsters Ronald and Reginald Kray in the dramedy “Legend.”
To compare the brothers would be like night and day; one, who has a clear direction and a bit calm, the other mentally unstable and bi-sexual. The movie opens with the focus being placed on Reggie Kray who showcases his muscle around town, before beginning to fall madly in love with Frances (Emily Browning) who throughout the film endures a torturous relationship that ultimately led to her demise.
To be honest, I had never heard about the Kray brothers or their involvement in the criminal world, let alone their dominance in London. “Legend” is quite the brutal picture and director Brian Helgeland doesn’t skimp on the high level of violence. While Ronnie is unstable, he could be considered the brains of the duo as well, but his erratic outbreaks which are depicted with perfection by Hardy is evidence that the gangster should have stayed locked up in a mental institution.
The ongoing problem I found with watching “Legend” was the fact that not much seemed to take place. For this to be a tale chronicling the lives of two of London’s most notorious mobsters, not much mob mentality things take place. There aren’t those massive shootouts; we don’t see many fights, the dialogue for the most part leads to a narrative that put me to sleep on more than one occasion. That is never a good sign if you’re watching a movie. Even “Black Mass” which many considered to be an okay movie, had my attention more than “Legend.”
The only brawl that I found fitting worth discussing is the ongoing battle between Reggie and Ronnie throughout the flick. It’s apparent that Reggie is more than capable of operating the business without his brother’s assistance, but that loyalty ultimately gets him in trouble time and time again. Ronnie’s impulsivity puts a target on the brothers back and at times forces the viewer to wonder if Reggie is actually capable of murdering his own brother to maintain his sanity.
It’s apparent from the first moment that the audience sees Ronnie that all the marbles aren’t there; even the doctor warns Reggie that his brother is a paranoid schizophrenic. The bond of a twin forces him to do the honorable thing, even though it becomes apparent he knows he has made a mistake.
What is sad about “Legend” is none of the characters beyond Reggie and Ronnie capture your interest. Frances, who is portrayed with that girl next door charm of Browning, seems to cause the viewer to tune out. There should be something more for her to do beyond chase after Reggie who she deems her one true love.
While I was not impressed with “Legend” as a movie, the acting that is delivered by Tom Hardy is indeed impressive. While Ronnie was not always easy to understand, it was evident that he and Reggie were two completely different personalities. That is a testament to Hardy being able to utilize subtly to highlight traits and mannerisms that stand out for both brothers. While “Legend” is no perfect flick, the acting from Hardy has to at least be acknowledged.