Legend Blu-ray Review
If you’re a fan of crime (and I mean, if you’re curious about Al Capone and his fellow criminals) then I’m sure you’ve heard of the Kray brothers. Ronnie and Reggie Kray ruled London’s East End in the 1960s. Their story was brought to the big screen in 1990, in a film called THE KRAYS, which starred brothers Martin and Gary Kemp as Reggie and Ronnie. Though the Kemps gave strong performances, they were, and are, still best remembered as the talent behind the band Spandau Ballet. Last year, Academy Award winning writer/director Brian Helgeland went the brother’s one better, casting Tom Hardy to play both Ronnie AND Reggie, in LEGEND.
A film that’s perfect in its period portrayal (not a surprise since Helgeland co-wrote and directed the best film of 1997 (sorry TITANIC), LA CONFIDENTIAL. Based on the book “The Profession of Violence,” the film introduces us to the very similar, though quite different, Kray brothers. Reggie (Hardy) is cool and confident, with a sense of humor that makes everyone love him. Ronnie (Hardy) is quirky and moody. Until his brother gets him out, Ronnie has been living in a mental hospital. He is quick to anger and offense, and even quicker on the trigger finger. Imagine Joe Pesci’s Tommy Devito from GOODFELLAS with a much better vocabulary. Ronnie is also gay and not ashamed of it. As the two begin their rise, Reggie becomes smitten with Frances (Browning), who is the sister of one of his workers. Of course, as the whole neighborhood knows of the Kray brothers her mother is none too pleased by the relationship. And the more powerful they become the less pleased she is.
In what could have been a one-note trick, Hardy gives two amazing and different performances as Ronnie and Reggie. While Reggie takes advantage of Hardy’s good looks and amiable reputation, Ronnie is bespectacled and much slower. The characters are, indeed, night and day and credit to Hardy for being able to portray both with such believability. At no time do you think it’s just a movie trick you’re watching but two different blokes who happen to look alike! The story moves steadily through the decade and Helgeland ensures that he leaves no stone unturned in telling the story. Technically the film is also outstanding. Period cars and dress give way to a Technicolor world of dark suit and long, skinny ties. The mood is also helped out by a wide selection of popular music from the era. And if you’re looking for authenticity, you can’t beat the sound of an East End accent! Thick as gravy and just as spicy, the accents are so prominent that I actually had to watch the film with the English sub-titles working to ensure I didn’t miss a word that was being said. That being said, the mix of various dialects, all of them English, add to the authenticity of the film. And Hardy delivers on all cylinders. With his past work culminating in an Oscar nod last year for THE REVENANT, he will surely be one of the great actors of his generation for years to come.
Video: Presented in its original 2.39:1aspect ratio, the film jumps off the screen. London in the 1960s was a mod, colorful time and those colors explode here.
Audio: The soundtrack is delivered in DTS HD Master Audio 7.1. and is well mixed. Again, you may want to use the subtitles to catch all of the East End dialect.
Creating the Legend (11:03): A brief but informative featurette on the making of the film.
Audio Commentary: As a fan of writer/director Brian Helgeland I look forward to his films. His commentary here is beyond informative, with discussions on everything from casting to historical accuracy. Helgeland is so good that this commentary earned an extra ratings point on its own.