Tom Hardy is the Sir Lawrence Olivier of the twenty-first century; he is a masterful chameleon, from super hero (“Mad Max: Fury Road”), villain (“The Dark Knight Rises”) to the common man (“Locke”) he stuns with his inimitable ability to methodically transform himself into a myriad of diverse characters. His remarkable reserves expand exponentially as he sinks his flawless aptitudes into the roles of Ronnie and Reggie Kray, twins, who ruled the gangster world of London’s 50’s and 60’s.
“Legend” directed by Brian Helgeland, based on the book “The Profession of Violence” by John Pearson, is flawed, looses its focus midway through the scenario; at times incoherent because of the thickness of the cockney accent but Hardy in the dual roles, is hypnotic. The genius of his depiction lies in perpetually being able to distinguish between the twins: Reggie, the normal criminal is handsome, deadly and controlling, warped reason is reflected in his decisions; Ronnie is monomaniacal, alcoholic, terrifying; a toxic, skewed code informs his volatile temper; diverse, but “the ties that bind” never cauterized, result in their ultimate ruination.
Hiding their criminality behind a legitimate nightclub, Reggie strives to have a normal relationship with “fragile” “Frances Shea” (Emily Browning, is magnificent as a child/woman lacking the mettle to run from an unhealthy love and an untoward world); nine years Reggie’s junior, the film hints at emotional issues long before her fateful meeting with the least lethal brother.
“Legend”, more than the story, is a vehicle for Hardy’s transformative facilities, he dazzles, even though the film doesn’t.
TWO & 1/2 STARS!!