Friday, 11 September 2015

REVIEW - LEGEND (BRIAN HELGELAND)


A film built around a gimmick, a gimmick disguised as innovation. Tom Hardy plays both Kray brothers, the London gangsters from the 1960s whose story is likely no more remarkable than those of any other real-life career criminals adapted for the screen for decades now. This trick, admittedly not particularly well-achieved through dodgy effects work, and the London setting, also questionably recreated with artificial backdrops and cramped, styleless interior design, seems to be all that Brian Helgeland has to distinguish Legend from countless similar films, and his lack of directing expertise shows through in an unimaginatively-helmed attempt at constructing a crime saga that's legendary in its own right. With plodding pace, Legend recounts the Krays' experiences with a disinterest that suggests Helgeland simply expected gravitas to spring from nowhere to redeem his vapid work, and it doesn't. We just progress from one scene to the next, all ambiguity stripped of what was surely a most complex situation, that we might know without doubt where we're being led - Legend slips into a groove early and stays there throughout, and the forced immediacy of a few sizzling sequences can't rescue it from this turgid trough. Yet those sequences are, indeed, sizzling, as much as Tom Hardy's brilliant performances as Reggie and Ronnie. Even as the film offers nothing new, Hardy holds your attention and your admiration alike, and embraces the film's comedic and dramatic elements with glee in his intense portrayals. He's there to facilitate a gimmick, certainly, but he ends up elevating that gimmick. It's not innovative, it's barely even interesting, but it's a long way better than it ought to be, and we've Hardy to thank for that.