Sunday, May 1, 2016

Film Review: Legend (2015)

Copyright: Universal Pictures
For some complex and subtle reason, gangster movies became something that is not easy to make. It could be that the ever increasing demands of the viewers have forced directors and writers to try and push the limits of the genre, but as recent films clearly show, this is not going well. Just like Black Mass, another high-end gangster film based on real people, Legend is also lacking in engagement, in spite of some great acting and plenty of style.

The story of the film is set in London in 1960’s where the Kray brothers rule as criminal princes. 

One has a strategic mind that desires to grow and expand as peacefully as possible, while the other has a violent mind clouded by a multitude of psychiatric issues. Both are played by Tom Hardy and both are played quite well. As a whole, they create the Kray gang which becomes one of the key factions in the London underground.

Sure, Legend has a lot of sway about it, featuring suits, walk and talk of the era, making it slick film. Hardy too has the ability to carry almost any project on his shoulders, as the movie’s director, Brian Helgeland knows very well. In The Revenant, he was the man who stole the show, even though the people from the American Academy did not agree with this. But, Helgeland was not able to differentiate between what Kray story was needed to be told, and which one is irrelevant.

By focusing on the private life of the sane brother and his wife played superbly by Emily Browning, he made the film a series of short events which mix in a bunch of stuff, including rival gangs, US mafia syndicates, failed nightclubs and much more, but do not follow through on any of it.

The end, when it comes, simply wraps it up, as if the police themselves were watching the film and at one point said “OK, that’s enough, let’s get this over with”. This way, Legend just fails to be anything regal even though it does tell the story of a pair of very colorful rules of the underworld. Because of this lack of impact that the film has, maybe future gangster films could try to use the factual stories as inspiration, but then, base the films on their imagination, not the bleak and pointless reality which true crime usually boils down to.