"Collectively, the film... provides a digestible commentary on morality, and is definitely not just another gangster film to add to the pile."
Legend is a biopic based on the true, gruesome story of two of east-London gangsters and brothers, Ronald and Reginald Kray. The film is set in '50s and '60s London, in the rougher parts of town, director Brian Helgeland bringing together the allure, excitement and heartache that come with the life of a gangster.
Tom Hardy plays both Reggie — the handsome, golden boy married to Frances (Emily Browning) — as well as his paranoid schizophrenic brother Ronnie. The two build their empire in London; starting with one nightclub, then move into the West End. They use intimidation, violent threats and extortion, and enlist the help of their shifty banker Lesley Payne (David Thewlis).
The character of Ronnie is the most intriguing. His bisexuality, cavorts with members of parliament and scathing verbal attacks on people provide entertainment as well as much needed depth to the film. At one point he picks up a microphone and yells at a room full of aristocrats, "Look at you, grinning in your synthetic opulence." Ronnie's reactions in social situations are discordant, blatantly honest, almost jarring, but usually leave you in stitches, making you wish more people spoke like this.
It is a shame Browning is given such a limited character when she is capable of much more. The backstory for Frances Shea is literally only of a 'sensitive' girl, which is imaginably boring to watch.
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Collectively, the film is captivating for its whole two hours, provides a digestible commentary on morality, and is definitely not just another gangster film to add to the pile.