LEGEND. (2015) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

LEGEND. (2015) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY BRIAN HELGELAND. BASED ON THE BOOK BY JOHN GEORGE PEARSON, THE PROFESSION OF VIOLENCE: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE KRAY TWINS. STARRING TOM HARDY, EMILY BROWNING, DAVID THEWLIS, CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON, CHAZZ PALMINTERI, TARA FITZGERALD AND TARON EGERTON.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is my second favourite screen adaptation of this true-life crime story, my favourite being the one with the Spandau Ballet twins in it, the 1990 one. This one has been described as more of a showcase for Tom Hardy in the dual lead roles of Ronnie and Reggie Kray than an accurate depiction of the gangster part of the story of their lives, but maybe that’s why I like it, because Tom Hardy is a bit of all right as Reggie Kray, the non-crazy twin, lol.

The twins were the leading players in London’s criminal underworld of the 1960s, and were known for the savage violence of their crimes. Ronnie was a paranoid schizophrenic, and is portrayed here almost as a comical, even genial, buffoon, as opposed to the more dangerously irrational and violent in his business dealings of the two brothers.

Ronnie was probably the most feared of the brothers for his unpredictability and the way that you never knew what mad, vicious thing he might do next. He was also homosexual, and is shown in this film as referring to his gay tendencies openly, even to business rivals, as opposed to keeping it as a sort of open secret amongst the gangster underworld, which was my previous understanding of the situation.

Reggie was more ‘normal,’ if you could describe either of the Kray twins as normal, and is shown here having a romantic relationship with Frances Shea, the sister of his driver, Frankie. Frances is stunningly beautiful but is physically and mentally ‘delicate,’ unable to cope with the brutal realities of her husband’s business. What happens to her after their marriage is of no real surprise to anyone, I would say.

The main landmarks of the twins’ grisly ‘career’ are all present and correct here; firstly, the murders of George Cornell and Jack ‘the hat’ McVitie, both indications that the Krays’ lives and actions were spiralling horribly out of control towards the end, and, secondly, their constant pursuit by Superintendent Leonard Ernest ‘Nipper’ Read, the police officer who was determined to take the Krays down.

It’s so ironic to think that the man who locked away the Krays for good should himself pass away from COVID-19 in April of 2020, very early into the pandemic that brought the world to a virtual standstill for about eighteen months. Of course, the poor guy was ninety-five at the time, a grand old age and a jolly good innings by anyone’s standards.

The twins’ relationship with their legendary doting mum, Violet, is barely touched upon in this film, unlike in the 1990 one when Violet is played by the magnificent Billie Whitelaw, a lady I like to imagine was as feisty in real life as the characters she played.

Maybe the director of LEGEND felt like that relationship had been sufficiently dealt with in film, and he wanted to concentrate on the relationship between the brothers and between Reggie and the exquisite but repeatedly-described-as-fragile Frances.

One gets the feeling here that Ronnie was his brother Reggie’s cross to bear, and a heavy enough one at that. In the one scene in LEGEND in which Violet does appear, she reminds Reggie warningly that ‘he’s still your brother,’ and that loyalty to him is paramount.

We all saw what happened to Frances, the one person that ever really came between them. The bonds of loyalty between the brothers, and from Reggie to Ronnie in particular, were too strong for any woman to ever sever…

I love the poor little terraced streets the Krays grew up in, and from where their mother saw no reason to ever move, as far as I know. In this film, they look exactly as I imagine they would have looked during Hitler’s Blitz. I love the nostalgic feeling these streets evoke in me, and I’m not even English…!

I want to fight them on the beaches and on the landing grounds and on the fields, streets and hills of our beautiful green land. I want to dance on the cobblestones of my local street and celebrate VE Day by kissing an American soldier and swapping romantic favours for nylons and bubble-gum and cigarettes.

It’s powerful stuff, this nostalgia. Really sweeps you away with it. I want to have a little American war baby and later go over to the States to try and find his father only to find I’ve been ‘ghosted’ more thoroughly than a single woman on Tinder today. No, wait, I don’t want that bit, lol. I went too far, as usual. I always do that!

By the way, David Thewlis (HARRY POTTER, THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS) portrays the Krays’ business manager Leslie Payne, who played a part in their ultimate downfall, and Taron ROCKET MAN Egerton is here also as Mad Teddy, Ronnie’s yes-man and rumoured lover. Welsh singer Duffy (MERCY, WARWICK AVENUE) also appears in the film as iconic club singer Timi Yuro.

Anyway, great film, and a great acting feat by the delicious Tom Hardy, who plays both brothers. And sometimes they’re filmed side by side as well, which really makes you wonder, how did they do that…? The film’s just dropped on Netflix (yes, I talk like that now!) and it would make great Saturday night viewing over the Bank Holiday. Enjoy.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:

https://amzn.to/3ulKWkv

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thirteen-Stops-Later-Book-ebook/dp/B091J75WNB/

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