Legend is director Brian Helgeland's take on the career of the Kray Brothers.
HE IS LEGEND: Tom Hardy plays twin London gangsters in Legend.'

I'm looking forward to the post-Scorsesean gangster movie. It's getting far too easy to predict the angles of the director's imitators, to coldly admire the fluidity of the tracking shots, and then try to convince myself that there's some truth to the endless justification of thugs.

Legend is director Brian Helgeland's take on the career of the Kray Brothers. They're maybe best known in parody form through the Piranha Brothers sketch by Monty Python, though in the 1990 film, The Krays, actors Martin and Gary Kemp played the pair of gangsters who ruled London's Clubland. By digital trickery Tom Hardy plays both Krays until you forget the seam between them. It must have been a nightmare to engineer, but even Hardy's noteworthy skill can't differentiate the two.

Talking through the clogged sinuses of a busted nose is Hardy's Ronnie, a paranoid schizophrenic slurring from his medications; he's an out gay man too dangerous to be persecuted. And since he was the lover of a prominent member of the house of Lords, he had a get-out-of-jail card. Hardy also plays the cannier, cooler Reggie—building up an empire of swinging London nightclubs where Joan Collins, Shirley Bassey and Sonny Liston used to turn up.

Holding the sprawl together is heavy narration by Emily Browning, as Reggie's wife, Frances, a girl from the East End, whom Reggie lured with candy and kept with diamonds. Browning is small of stature and she plays the part like a waif. Since she is the film's counterpoint—the sad, moral part of the story—much depends on her. While we hear a great deal of what Frances thinks, it's still an underwritten part. The tone of her narration is like the writing in an as-told-to biography—her words are far more exculpatory than anyone trying to talk to themselves with honesty ought to be.

Some solid supporting actors include the former Dr. Who, Christopher Eccleston, as a dogged Scotland Yard detective; David Thewlis as a much-battered adviser to the brothers; and the Welsh singer Duffy, who turns up as a chanteuse, singing the film's leitmotif, "Make The World Go Away." Legend seems like a gratuitous retelling; the film is mostly light nostalgia for a London in the days when St. Paul's was the tallest building on the skyline.

R; 132 Mins.
Camera 7, Campbell

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