By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
The opening night film for this year’s Austin Film Festival was a good old fashioned gangster flick based on the true story of the infamous Kray twins. Reggie and Ronnie Kray (Tom Hardy in both roles) ruled the East End of London, England during the 1960s and established connections with American organized crime via Angelo Bruno (Chazz Palminteri) of the Philadelphia Crime Family. Despite their early successes, the eventual downfall of the Krays was mostly due to the fact that Ronnie was often out-of-control due to a mental illness.
Written and directed by Brian Helgeland (42, L.A. Confidential), Legend pretty much has the typical story structure of most modern gangster films, along with the usual character and story elements. The movie is narrated by Reggie Kray’s girlfriend Frances Shea (played by Emily Browning), who makes for an interesting perspective, but lacks the proper development to make her a compelling and sympathetic character. Still, the movie does have an engrossing quality thanks to the outstanding performances by Tom Hardy who is absolutely electric as two very different twin brothers. Hardy totally commits to both roles and will have people believing that they are watching two different actors in the film.
The film also features fine performances by Browning, Christopher Eccleston, Paul Anderson, Tara Fitzgerald, and Taron Egerton. However, Hardy’s extraordinary performances are the ones that truly deserve recognition during awards season. While the movie itself is pretty good overall, Hardy is the main reason to go see this film. It is the only reason I would recommend catching this film while in theaters.