Written by Yosra Osman

Arts

Career-defining role(s) for Hardy

We sent Yosra Osman to see Legend, which boasts not one but two Tom Hardys. Here’s what she made of it.

Tom Hardy and Tom HardyTom Hardy. It doesn’t matter if he’s playing violent prisoner Charles Bronson, or masked supervillain Bane in that Batman film, you want to see him. He knows how to give a good performance, and in Brian Helgeland’s Legend, we’re lucky enough to watch him give two.

Legend sees Hardy play both Reggie and Ronnie Kray, the infamous crime lords who ruled over East London in the 50s and 60s. Narrated by Reggie’s wife, Frances (a well-cast Emily Browning), we meet the twins as their reign over the East End comes to full fruition. At times more glamorous than gritty, the twins thwart rival gangs, mix with celebs, and keep out of reach of police detective Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read (Christopher Eccleston).

It’s an attractive premise: any portrait of the Krays would draw interest. The twins have a cult appeal that has seen books published and documentaries made, probably earning more money than the gangsters were worth even in their heyday. Legend doesn’t quite escape traces of fantasised myth, being a stylised take on the twins’ story that aims to entertain, rather than give a historically accurate portrayal. It succeeds in that: Legend is bold and brash, with electric dialogue and a gradual build-up of tension, drawn from scattered moments that lead to a bloody, brutal climax. And it has Tom Hardy, who is brilliant. More on that later.

“There’s even a scene where Tom Hardy fights Tom Hardy, put together so well it beats anything Marvel has to offer.”

Any problems with the film probably come from its attempts at dealing with a variety of issues: from battles with rivals The Richardson Gang, to Ronnie’s open homosexuality, to Reggie’s struggling relationship with Frances. Yet it’s hard for these to ever detract from the central performance (in case I didn’t mention earlier, Tom Hardy).

Frances, in fact, is rather sidelined: even though she is supposedly telling the story, you can’t help but feel she’s only ever on the edge of it. Browning does her best with the script, leading Frances away from the one-dimensional ‘nagging wife’ annoyingly seen often in such films. She is a very sympathetic character, but, plot-wise, she can never be more than the support wheel to the full-speed-ahead vehicle that is the Kray twins.

Tom Hardy (left) and Tom HardyAnd, if you hadn’t guessed already, this is very much a Tom Hardy film. His astounding performance as both twins is the deserved focus. As Reggie he’s the suave hard man, a charmer, cool and controlled. As Ronnie he’s erratic and psychotic, all bulging eyes and clenched fists, but he avoids being a caricature, rather showing an impressive ability to be both leading man and character actor. Technically his performance, and the way he’s shown on screen as both twins, is extremely effective. There’s even a scene where Tom Hardy fights Tom Hardy, put together so well it beats anything Marvel has to offer.

Legend is a compelling film, which works best when Hardy is centre-stage, giving his absolute all in a career-defining role. This will surely give him some awards attention. Has anyone considered him for the next Bond yet?

@yozzie_osman

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Written by Yosra Osman

Yosra Osman is a mid-twenties film fan and self-confessed daydreamer of dangerous proportions