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Released 9 September 2015
Director Brian Helgeland

Tom Hardy, Paul Bettany, Emily Browning, Taron Egerton, Christopher Eccleston, Aneurin Barnard, Colin Morgan, David Thewlis, Paul Anderson, Chazz Palminteri, Tara Fitzgerald
Writer(s) Brian Helgeland

Tim Bevan, Chris Clark, Quentin Curtis, Eric Fellner, Brian Oliver
Origin United Kingdom France
Running Time 110 minutes
Genre Biography, crime, drama
Rating 18

Twin reeks.

Legend, the biopic of the notorious Kray twins, is currently subject to a good dose of social media ridicule thanks to some rather creative marketing. The film's poster is awash with five star reviews from various publications but cleverly chooses to push the two star Guardian notice so that it barely peaks out from behind Tom Hardy's dual heads. More naive souls may be appalled by this obfuscation but I was more surprised that the Guardian were the only ones to be less than gushing in their praise of this pedestrian piece of filmmaking.

The film takes place in the East End of London in the 1960s. Gangster twins Ronnie and Reggie Kray rule over their patch of the capital with an iron fist, mainly provided by the psychotic Ronnie – a man who revels in the violence of his lifestyle. His more business minded brother Reggie has his sights set on something bigger – a move into the classy surroundings of West End nightlife. This conflict of ambition between the brothers could have provided fascinating material for director Brian Helegeland to explore but for some reason the film instead focuses on the relationship between Reggie and 18 year old Francis, played by Emily Browning.

This focus manifests itself in a voiceover which has all the wit and insight of a WAG's memoir, delivered in flat monotone. As a result of this technique, we are distanced from the workings of the Kray organisation, receiving only snapshots of their lives. This is extremely lazy storytelling and only exacerbates the tonal problem that the film has overall. The world of Legend feels like an episode of Heartbeat – a camp and glossy rendering of the ‘60s, lacking in any darkness or grit.

Hardy's performances could be described in the same terms. As the more charming Reggie, he is passable but his bug-eyed, slurring Ronnie verges on ludicrous. Hardy may manage to transform himself but crucially, he never manages to bring to life the frightening brutality of these men. Consequently, the film fails not just as a biopic of the Kray twins but also as a crime thriller. Too soapy to ever be hard-hitting, the film becomes a camp ‘60s diorama.

- Linda O'Brien