DVD Review - Legend

Brian Helgeland won the Oscar for Best Writing for his adaptation of L.A. Confidential. He was nominated again for his adaptation of Mystic River. He recently wrote and directed 42, the film about Jackie Robinson. He takes on another real-life subject. This time, it's the adaptation of John Pearson's book about the Kray twins, two brothers from London who became notorious gangsters in the 1960's. They became famous for their connections to certain celebrities and political figures, and Helgeland's film deals with their last few years of freedom before being arrested in 1968 and put in prison for life.

Tom Hardy won Best Actor at the British Independent Film Awards for his dual role here. Hardy plays both brothers. He plays both the Kray twins. He plays Reggie Kray who requires less makeup and who looks simply like a well-dressed, British gentleman who runs a night-club. He's followed by the police, but, during the day he pursues an aspiring secretary named Frances, played by Emily Browning (Sucker Punch). Even on a date with her though, he can't help but take time to beat up a guy.

Hardy also plays Ronnie Kray, a character that requires a bit more makeup. His face looks rounder. His mouth is different. His hair is different and he wears glasses. Ronnie also states that he is a homosexual. He has a boy toy named Teddy, played by Taron Egerton. Teddy doesn't really do anything but sit around and laugh. It's a shame that Ronnie doesn't express that homosexuality but aside from one kiss, Reggie doesn't really have any scenes expressing his heterosexuality.

However, the reason Egerton's character is in the periphery is because Helgeland's script tries to build a love triangle between the Kray twins and Frances with Reggie in the middle, but it doesn't quite work. The reason it doesn't is because while the line between Reggie and Frances is made clear and the line between Frances and Ronnie is made clear, the line between Reggie and Ronnie isn't.

The relationship between the Winklevoss twins, played by Armie Hammer, in The Social Network, is more defined. Aside from a couple of fights, there aren't real conversations between Reggie and Ronnie. I never get a sense of the brotherly bond between them. For the love triangle to work, I have to feel that bond between the two men. Ronnie is literally crazy, or mentally ill. He requires medication, which he doesn't take. The movie in many ways is Reggie trying to reconcile his love of his brother and his frustration or hatred of his brother's illness.

Helgeland provides glimpses of this attempt to reconcile on Reggie's part, but there simply aren't enough real conversations between Reggie and Ronnie. It fails where something like Of Mice and Men (1939) or Rain Man (1988) succeeds. When tensions increase toward the end, the strength of the actors help, but the Reggie-Ronnie dynamic isn't developed enough. Ronnie's perspective is a bit short-changed as well. I never felt like I ever got inside his head or truly understood him. Ronnie felt more like an idea than a fully-fleshed out person.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated R for strong violence, language throughout, some sexual and drug material.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 11 mins.


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