• Review: Legend (2015)

    From David N. Butterworth@21:1/5 to All on Sun Jul 31 11:20:06 2016
    LEGEND (2015)
    A film review by David N. Butterworth
    Copyright 2016 David N. Butterworth

    *1/2 (out of ****)

    Ronnie and Reggie Kray were a pair of organized crime lords who operated in
    and around the East End of London in the 1950s and '60s, gaining notoriety, celebrity, and (finally) a couple of life sentences between them. They
    owned nightclubs and dabbled in protection rackets, armed robbery, arson, extortion, and murder. A feature film, "The Krays," was made about the charismatic identical twins in 1990, with the inspired casting of Gary and Martin Kemp, guitarists for the New Romantic band Spandau Ballet, in the
    Academy Award-winning director Brian Helgeland ("L.A. Confidential")
    now offers up his take on the infamous twin gangsters' story, with Tom
    Hardy in an ebullient dual role.
    What soon becomes violently clear in "Legend," however, is that the gimmick of Hardy playing both Ronald and Reginald, often in the same scene, often interacting with each other, is the *only* thing Helgeland's
    ill-advised film has going for it.
    The narration, by Reg's short-lived wife Frances Shea ("Sucker
    Punch"'s Emily Browning), is stilted and uninspired. The go-for-broke soundtrack, of popular songs from the period, just tosses out its hits willy-nilly, irrespective of what's actually happening on screen, and
    Carter Burwell's original music sounds woefully out of place. Indeed, the whole film feels flat, from the look--too clean and efficient for a
    gangster pic--to the dialogue, which alternates between bland and banal.
    Scenes drag on tediously. Minor characters are given unnecessary focus.
    Major ones seem positioned simply to explode into violence every half hour,
    on the half hour.
    Paul Bettany--blink and you'll miss him--is wasted as a rival mob
    boss. David Thewlis ("Naked") is an obsequious money man, forever
    provoking Ronald's mistrust and disgust. Chazz Palminteri is a thuggish Philadelphia caricature. But throughout all this, despite the lack of
    context and the garbled gangster tropes and the muddled tone and the flawed direction, Hardy shines.
    And not once, but twice.
    He's the reason to see "Legend." He plays Ron as a slack-mouthed psychotic in NHS frames, a ticking time bomb of repressed hatred. His
    brother, ten minutes older by birth, is less off his head, making cavalier promises of going straight, but the biz is in his blood. Hardy's terrific, having fun while we're not. Even my daughter bailed thirty minutes from
    time and she loves Tom Hardy with the white-hot intensity of a thousand
    suns. That's how disappointing this Hardy boys' mystery is.

    David N. Butterworth

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