This review may contain spoilers.
Legend is an upcoming mobster film that is a dynamic and gripping tale of the Kray brothers, twin gangsters who dominated London’s East End in the sixties.
Reggie Kray is the front man of the duo, dealing with the business and showing off his machismo by constantly smoking cigars, wearing bling gang-rings and manoeuvring various gang rivalries. He is poised, intuitive and relentless, but burdened with taking care of his estranged brother, Ron Kray, a schizophrenic/borderline psychopath just released from prison. The roots of their mobster ways derive from their youth; after their father had abused their mother, they brutally assaulted him in return. The Krays are driven and defined by violence, surviving in a ‘tough world that only made them tougher’. Tom Hardy is unsurprisingly magnificent in his portrayal of both protagonists, creating two very different yet equally intriguing onscreen characters.
The film’s story begins when Reggie falls for ‘fragile’ Frankie (Emily Browning), the sister of one of Reggie’s chauffeurs. Frankie is the only normalising element of Reggie’s world, in her unyielding hope for a better life for them both, as an inspirational voice of reason. During the course of the film, Frankie becomes a point of conflict between the brothers, as Ron becomes increasingly envious of her relationship with Reggie.
Ron is a homosexual, at a time when most hid from their perceived ‘deviation’ and potential public ridicule, engaging instead in underground movements. In real life, Ron’s sexual orientation was said to be another source of tension between the brothers; in Legend, however, Ron appears proud of his homosexuality, surrounded as he is by a ‘posse’ of other queer men. While mostly masked by confidence, Ron does display some insecurities, nonetheless; he insists, for instance, ‘I don’t take it, I give it, I’m not a faggot.’
The film’s treatment of such social issues is undoubtedly interesting. In every corner of London, the communities in the film are shown as totally submissive towards the Krays. Celebrities who attended their clubs and casino, meanwhile, remain unfazed by the brothers’ reputation. As regards the police, the authorities struggle to extract a peep from locals, and fail in incriminating the brothers, despite constant surveillance. Reggie, in some amusing scenes, goes as far as to mock the police officers – taunting them with sarcasm, offering them a cuppa.
So the Krays dominate London, rising through global ranks and teaming up with another powerful duo of Vegas gangsters. Gradually, they become overwhelmed by power, and go somewhat over the edge. Reggie is imprisoned. Ron cannot sustain the superior Kray name, embarrasses Reggie, and ultimately tarnishes their legacy.
Legend is brimming with blood and violence (which some viewers may find disturbing); the intensity and cold realism of the film successfully exposes the viewer to the harsh realities of this era, of this ‘legend’.
– Legend is set for cinematic release in 2015.