“We’re talking about being gangsters, that’s what we are!”
If you believe the movies, being a gangster can be a pretty good lifestyle choice. The have the money, the cars, the women, and what seems like anything they want. Yeah I know that most of their lives end in either prison or being gunned down in a public place, but still some make it to old age. I have never, like Ray Liotta in “Goodfellas”, always wanted to be a gangster. For me I am more than content to watch a movie about someone else becoming one. With that all said we welcome the newest addition to gangster movie lore, “Legend”, a film filled with so much promise because we get a double dose of Tom Hardy.
We have our well-known gangsters here in the states. With names like Capone, Luciano, and Gabino the gangster market was pretty corned when it came to America. In London however, they also had their own, and they were named the Kray brothers, Ronald and Reggie (Tom Hardy). While the Kray brothers were twins, their looks were about the only thing that they had in common. Ronald was, how do you say, a bit crazy, the locked up kind of crazy. When it came to Reggie, he was the smooth one, who enjoyed being a club owner and being seen. While Ronald enjoyed the company of men, Reggie married Francis (Emily Browning), who knew all the about who and what the Krays were all about. Ronald and Reggie both liked to be gangsters; Ron was just a little more open about that love. The film follows the Kray’s rise and fall from power, but is often told through the eyes of Francis. The story told by her though, doesn’t lessen the brutality of it, but instead gives it it’s heart as well.
This is not the first time the Kray’s story has been told, with the first being “The Krays”, a film released in 1990. Twenty-five years later and this time written by Brian Helgeland (Mystic River), the timing was right for another telling of their story. The secret would be in what to focus on in the lives of the two brothers, and Helgeland found his angle when he discovered the feelings that Reggie had for his wife Francis. The film has Helgeland’s fingerprints all over it, but none of that would have mattered if you didn’t have the right cast. Hardy is the engine that makes everything go, as he continues his climb as one of the better actors out there. The range it took to not only play one of the Krays, but both is incredible as it is a mater talent. While having the same person play twins is not new, watching Hardy do it, makes it feel like a new experience. And while he gets most of the spotlight, Browning as Francis adds the much needed humanity to a story that is about two brothers who didn’t have much, but took to opportunity to take what they wanted. This is one of those films that will have you talking come award season, with another stellar performance by Hardy, “Legend” is a film that may or may not live up to its name, but I’m doubly glad it’s out there.