Tom Hardy Makes A ‘Legend’ For Himself (Movie Review)

LegendI strolled into Monday night’s press screening of the British crime thriller Legend armed with only two bits of information, Tom Hardy was the leading man and there was two of him.  I honestly knew nothing more than that having never even checked out the film’s trailer nor researched it beforehand like I usually do.  One of my reviewer friends in the Austin area saw it prior and said it would fit my movie consumption tastes perfectly.  After all, Tom Hardy is in my number one film of the year thus far so who am I to call his bluff?  It’s almost as if I was meant to see Legend by some kind of divine intervention.  So here I am.  Here you are.  Let’s get started!

Legend is based on a book called The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins by author John Pearson.  The novel is a time period piece (London during the 1960’s) that deals with the rise and fall of the Kray twins (obviously portrayed in a dual role performance by Hardy).  The film is both written and directed by Mr. Brian Helgeland, which makes this his fifth feature if anyone is counting.  In addition to Hardy, the movie has some other big names like Emily Browning, Christopher Eccleston and Paul Bettany, also featuring Colin Morgan, David Thewlis, Tara Fitzgerald, and Taron Egerton in supporting roles.

So in hindsight I guess you could accurately call Legend a gangster biopic.  It has that same notorious formula where the filmmakers take you on a ride and the next thing you know you’re on top of the world, but just like in real life all good things must come to an end and it comes crashing to a fiery end.  Such is the very predictable life a gangster.  Our film here though is a tad different as the character of Ronald Kray I guess you could say has some mental problems.  So Legend focuses keenly on Reggie Kray as he seeks to control the psychotic tendencies of his twin, Ronald.  Not to state the obvious here again, but the beauty of this film is that Tom Hardy portrays both of these dudes.  That’s what I want you to really focus on as I chip deeper into what makes Legend a worthwhile watch.

Although a British gangster film such as this is not ordinarily my cup of tea so to speak, make no mistake about it…this is THE TOM HARDY SHOW.  He literally embodies this film and gives it purpose, life and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but fun too.  He crafts these characters into three-dimensional beings that drag you down with them like you would expect from a gangster movie (the predictability factor in the genre…nothing new here), but unlike the typical mafia tale, you actually feel something for these characters even when they gone and did something batty bad.  That’s the hidden treasure, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow here in Legend, it’s a fun watch despite the deeply flawed characters onscreen.  However, once again, Tom Hardy is what makes it all of this and more.


So yeah I guess you can say Legend has a lot going for it.  In addition to its humor it also has charm, wit and the gangster violence we all know and love in post-Goodfellas pics (it’s not at that level though).  It doesn’t disappoint you in the violence arena.  However, there is one theme most central and universal in Legend…L-O-V-E.  Love can be that binding bridge, but it can also uncouple and be that physical barrier too.  You’ll find out what I’m talking about here when you see this one, but underneath it all Legend is really a love story, a tale of brotherly love and a romance one too.   That’s where I would like to call your attention to Miss Emily Browning next.

I haven’t seen Emily since 2011’s Sucker Punch.  While I liked her in that role, she was very forgettable at the same time.  But that’s the complete opposite here.  Emily is both radiant and innocent at the same time here.  Her soft, plush looks could melt a man and there’s no denying why she ultimately controls Tom Hardy’s Reggie in this one.  I mean let’s be honest with ourselves here.  You look at all the famous gangster movies and what is usually our protagonist’s undoing?  If you guessed the women in their lives, congratulations…you’re on top of things.  Browning nails it in the way she opposes Tom’s equally opposing characters onscreen.  She’s like the opposite polar end of a magnet, the yin-yang to everything we know and take for granted in this Legend universe.  In other words, great casting choice!

So walking out of this my girlfriend tells me she loved this film.  I said really.  She knows that to be sarcasm coming from me.  She says yeah what’s not to love, it’s Tom Hardy in a gangster movie.  She goes on to add Tom Hardy was even hot as the evil brother Ronald.  And let me tell you, Ron’s a nasty son of a b1tch when he’s off his meds.  I knew I had to change the subject (because I’m not going to win against the hunky Tom Hardy), but in hindsight she’s onto something.  Despite my non-love for British films of this nature, Hardy made me feel something.  He made me laugh.  He made me wince.  Oh hell, Hardy straight out owns this flick.  What would it be like without him?  I shudder to think.  It’s really hard to imagine though how any of this would work without Tom.  Like Tom Brady to the New England Patriots, Tom Hardy is to the predictable Legend…a necessity…a recipe for only good, hearty things.  That’s the Legend I’ll take any day.

Not since JCVD’s Double Impact have I’ve been so smitten with gushing giddiness over a dual role performance (believe it or not that’s actually not sarcasm).  So I hope that says something for Legend.  If you’re lucky enough to find a theater showing this, I say give it a shot mate.  If it’s an Alamo Drafthouse, even better.  Have a pint in honor of it all.  London calls.  Cheers.

Legend Movie Poster


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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