I have always found biographical films and cinema extremely intriguing. Not only in terms of history, people and subject matter but how far this is spun or changed in order to create entertainment. Here with Legend this is ever more interesting as a person who grew up South London all life and would hear many stories from very real people about 60’s East End London and the Krays. Fact or Fiction is the whole point of journalism after all, even with film reviews. Brian Helgeland’s 2015 British Gangster film gives a glorious tour of 1960’s East End London crime life, in glamorous fashion. The fundamental rule of individual capitalism and financial independence of any profession is being professional in the chosen field. What Helgeland focuses on through film is that this is even the case with crime and Gangsters. Legend at it’s most basic idea is exploring the effect of illegal ventures which involve violence, threats, murder and steal in order to maintain a lifestyle of independence for two twin brothers in a very fast political and social climate of the swinging 60’s. The pitfalls and triumphs of ambition in crime are looked at when it affects their personality and those around them who come into contact with them.
The Krays allegedly according to fiction film legend and screenplay writing (pun intended) approached crime like this too….
“We own Las Vegas but here the Atlantic Ocean is in our way, from both outside muscle and the cops…London is going to be the casino capital of Europe” – –American Italian Mafia in London meeting with the Kray twins
“We could do your security that’s not a problem, but we want to work with you but not for you!” – – Reggie Kray twin
What I always find captivating about crime films not to do with the emotional horror of sexual perversion crime but gangster is it can ACTUALLY feel like watching cinema which takes ‘cops and robbers’ playground games to adult behaviour.
Tom Hardy has always been a British actor of extreme talent. In Legend as he was already growing to global recognisable career for this, he still chose a home UK script which almost proves his credibility for the art he chose. There is a certain atmosphere to Brit gangster films like ‘Sexy Beast’ which is so British and adored it shows he is still a UK soul. His ability to play two roles who are so personally related speaks volumes.
Emily Browning is sympathetic and genuine as the well meaning, young lady who fell in love with another young man with bad tendencies who had no idea the future of thing’s. It is still despite all crime a sad tale of ‘boy meets girl’ as to why it’s narrated entirely by ‘Francis’ not the brothers themselves. Francis’s relationship with Reggie Kray is as epic tragedy as the business he works in. It’s a moral lesson to the audience of what really lies behind glamour, fame and money even if comes through crime in any period.
It’s an important note not only to Brit crime cinema as it will no undoubtedly join the ranks of ‘Sexy Beast, ‘Get Carter’, ‘Lockstock’ and ‘Layercake’. It also speaks to anyone who has had ambition and distraction dis rail circumstances while living life through film.
Von Von Lamunu