Based on the book, The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins by John Pearson, Legend explores the lives of notorious British gangster twins, Ronald and Reginald Kray (both played by Tom Hardy). Narrated by Reggie’s wife, Frances, this story tells the tale of the gruesome events detailing the peak and pit of their careers and finally their incarceration for life in 1969.

Beautifully shot and stylised, this long-awaited biopic comes courtesy of Brian Helgeland. It’s the swinging sixties in London and the Kray brothers, Ronnie and Reggie, own the town. Using a popular nightclub and celebrity hangout in Bethnal Green as their cover, the Krays triggered a crime wave across London – terrorizing rival gangs or anyone who would stand in their way. The narrative, however, focuses less on the crimes and gore, as such, but centres itself on the relationship between the twins. Bound by blood, Ronnie and Reggie’s unconditional loyalty stands at the forefront of their business ethic yet Ronnie’s paranoid schizophrenia and violent episodes are damaging to their reputation and safety.

Immediately we meet Reggie’s love interest and our narrator, Frances (Emily Browning). Told also from her disapproving perspective, we see not only the rise and fall of crime lords, but the breakdown of a marriage. At times, the film becomes more about the effects the Krays left behind and in particular, the toll the relationship with the Krays had on Frances. Having met him aged only 16 years old, disliked by her psychopathic brother-in-law, their parents and constantly under scrutiny from her own family, joining a famous gangster family soon wears away at a fragile girl. This is an interesting and powerful dynamic and proves excellent writing at the hands of Helgeland.

Despite a few darker scenes, Legend features as much humour as there is violence. In many ways, it appears as a film of two halves - The Boat That Rocked (Richard Curtis, 2009) meets Gangster No.1 (Paul McGuigan, 2000). Being a film about the Krays, you might expect extreme and unsettling violence as seen in previous dramatisations of the twins’ lives. On the contrary, Legend starts out relatively tame and light-hearted, with the pair’s banter and ‘lad-ish’ charm primary to its charisma. This even goes as far to make humour of Ronnie’s strange rantings and sayings caused by his mental illness. As their success peaks and their business deteriorates, the British grit is more evident. The only downside of this, however, is that the film seems to lack continuity. It is as if it was created by two different directors entirely with some slower, less engaging scenes in the middle to bind it.

Ultimately, Legend is an entertaining and worthy piece of British cinema. Hardy is outstanding as both lead roles, though the effects used to have them in the same shot are sometimes a little sketchy. Despite a few dips in the narrative along the way and arguably more style than substance, Legend gets a Sophie star rating of 4 out of 5 stars. A film, I’m sure, Tom Hardy is proud to have on his CV.

Movie Review: Legend
4.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)

About The Author

Avatar photo

Sophie is a film blogger from South London with a degree in Film Theory and Major Production. Sophie currently works in digital marketing but in her spare time you'll find her writing reviews or at the cinema. Sophie loves all things Star Wars and Hollywood but having specialized in the Horror genre, monsters are her first love. She'll watch absolutely anything given the chance - you can find her also on her blog, Twitter: