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LEGEND

SYNOPSIS: Identical twin gangsters Ronald (Tom Hardy) and Reginald Kray (Tom Hardy) terrorize London during the 1950s and 1960s. (Based on a true story.)

Review by Louise Keller:
This riveting portrayal of the brutal world of the East End gangsters Ronald and Reginald Kray is extraordinary on many counts. First and foremost, it is Tom Hardy's intense and haunting depictions of both roles that brings it to life: Ronnie's unsettling psychopathic persona and Reggie's combo of gentle charmer and violent thug. The fact that director Brian Helgeland's screenplay is from the perspective of Reggie's wife Frances offers great poignancy, slashing across the ugly, non compromising life of thuggery the Kray twins represent. It's a mesmerizing representation and wonderful insight into a world of intimidation, power and violence, humanized by the relationships, not least being that between the brothers themselves, self-acclaimed gangster princes.

It takes a lot of love to hate Reggie as she did, Frances (Emily Browning) tells in her voice-over narration in the opening scenes. It is London in the Swinging Sixties and frustrated coppers note that local East Enders won't talk to them but will talk to gangsters. Browning is superb as the girl with big dreams who is swept off her feet by Reggie when she first meets him at her front door. They share a love of lemon sherbert lollies and she seems to bring out his gentle side. 'I'm not a gangster; I'm a club owner,' he insists, when she asks him to go straight and discard his gangster mantle. There are some lovely intimate moments - like Reggie's declaration of love for Frances and his charming proposal.

We get a clear view of how the Kray twins set about ruling London - with intimidation and intelligence. Theirs is a life of organized crime with close connections to the Mafia. The scene in which see first hand how the psychiatrist who declares Ronald Kray to be insane is made to reconsider his position is fascinating. Similarly, in a line-up, the woman witness present at a murder is intimidated to such an extent that she fails to identify him.

We are insiders and watch the internal relationships, Scotland Yard's pursuit and the acquisition of upmarket West End Clubs where they mingle with celebrities and politicians. All the cast is effective with special mention to Paul Bettany, Christopher Eccleston as Nipper, the detective hot on their trail and David Thewlis as Leslie Payne.

Most intriguing of all is the push-pull relationship between the brothers and the chilling words spoken in the final brutal scene are some you will never forget. As for Hardy, he is a revelation: every detail of his intricate dual performances is flawless. The production values are equally so.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

LEGEND (MA15+)
(UK, 2015)

CAST: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Taron Egerton, Paul Bettany, Colin Morgan, Christopher Eccleston, Paul Anderson, David Thewlis

PRODUCER: Tim Bevan, Chris Clark, Quentin Curtis, Eric Fellner, Brian Oliver

DIRECTOR: Brian Helgeland

SCRIPT: Brian Helgeland

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dick Pope

EDITOR: Peter McNulty

MUSIC: Carter Burwell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Tom Conroy

RUNNING TIME: 132 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Studio Canal

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 8, 2015







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