: Ronnie and Reggie Kray (Hardy, in a double role) were to London what Al Capone and Meyer Lansky were to the US - feared gangsters who mixed illegal business dealings with violence, in equal measure. Apart from tracing their often tenuous brotherly bond, the film deals with their rise, celebrity-like status and eventual life imprisonment.
: The real life Kray brothers had a fearsome mix of street-smart wiles and keen business acumen. Reggie is the brainy, relatively more normal of the two while Ronnie is crazy to the point of being scary. Early on in the movie, a doctor walks up to Reggie, fumes that Ronnie is downright insane and that he should not miss his twice-a-day medication ever. Reggie though, is a gentleman and it is his chivalrous ways and good looks which draws the rebellious Frances (Browning) to him. She later marries him, despite not liking the fact that he is a gangster.
From a technical standpoint, the double role imagery is pulled off perfectly. And the use of classic rock in this gangster flick is reminiscent of what Scorsese would do (think Goodfellas) but surprisingly, the script (also by Helgeland) has bits of humour too, not unlike the kind you'd see in a Guy Ritchie film. Helgeland - who won an Oscar for L.A. Confidential's screenplay - could however, have been a bit more economical in the film's runtime and instances of repetition. That the Krays were viscerally violent is also pummeled home. Yes, we get it, these guys were ruthless badasses.
Legend has all the elements of a period gangster film in place, along with dollops of additional dash and verve. It is stylish (the brothers are almost always in bespoke suits) and slick but somewhere down the halfway mark, takes a fearsome, dark twist. But more than anything else, it is a showcase for the formidable acting talents of Tom Hardy, last seen in the huge hit, Mad Max: Fury Road. Pulling off a double role convincingly is a tricky job, but Hardy manages it pretty smoothly. Ultimately, the film rides squarely on his capable shoulders.