In the early days of modern cinema, it was deeply amazing to have one actor play two roles in the same film—and appearing in the same scene as two different characters. Today, technology has made this perfectly possible and movie goers are no more wowed by such techniques.
But in ‘Legend’ Tom Hardy’s two watchable and somewhat distinct characters may confuse you into believing, these characters are being played by two different people—just that there is good facial resemblance.
As expected when a film is based on a true story, the critics have written out far disconnecting reviews—with the movie receiving as much as 5 stars from some reputable film critics and as low as 2 stars from others. I am yet to see a star but the varying in the praise points to the fact that, these critics paid attention to different elements of the film.
The film comes off as a caricature and well below our understanding of what gangsters are capable of doing; their antics and mode of operation. But considering the fact that the film was set in the 1950s, the huge disparity in the brutality of those tagged gangsters was inevitable.
Tom Hardy successfully plays Ronnie and Reggie Kray—East End London based twins who rose on the back of violence and intimidation to earn enviable street credibility and huge bank balances in the 1950s and 1960s.
Together with their gang-The Firm, the Krays were involved in armed robberies, arson, protection rackets, assaults, and the murders of Jack “The Hat” McVitie and George Cornell—the latter activities ended their freedom on the street and the former fetched them a hell lot of money and control.
Though the film is based on a true story, the seemingly injection of comedy made possible by the fact that Ronnie Kray had deep issues—far beyond just his keen desire to become a gangster added an extra layer of interest. Reggie’s up and down relationship with the 18-year-old Frances, AKA Frankie, also took a strong stand in the movie—perhaps so because she held a weak key to change; if only Reggie had listened.
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Playing two different characters in the same film would obviously throw you out there; showing your strength in one character as an actor and your weakness in another. Tom Hardy’s success largely centred on his perfect play of Reggie; the acting was brilliant and intensively convincing. But when he was presented to us as Ronnie, there was always something missing—he struggled to step into the shoes of that ‘lunatic’ character who cared less about his actions, irrespective of the hovering consequence.
The gang members were feeble—and even though I wasn’t expecting body built white men with tattoo as inhabitants of ‘The Firm’, I was expecting aggressive strong men whose sight alone would send the cat running. In fact, football hooligans will sit on the ladder of intimidation, far above those who took centre stage as members of the feared gang.
In relation to the street chaos and crimes the tyranny of the Krays brothers created, the film comes off as an attempt to play down the truth—and though the motive is not so, it points to the fact that the diabolical strength of the story was weakened on screen.
‘Legend’ ends on a true note; the brothers got what they deserved—except that, the way Frances left the journey still remains a controversy.