Legend Written by Brian Helgeland
Legend is not a gangster film. It’s a comedy. But it’s not even a good comedy. There’s no point pretending that Legend‘s most-promoted selling point wasn’t that it’s a biopic of the Kray twins using the same actor for both, as opposed to the Kemp brothers.
That first one was funny, too, because it featured the stars of Spandau Ballet in a film about the most infamous gangsters in British history. But Legend is like watching a feature-length adaptation of two sketch show characters. You know the kind – it’s often a vehicle for one actor, and they show off the different characters they can do, and all of them are seen at some point in an episode. The version of the Kray twins seen in Legend resemble some incompetent criminals from a comedy series that have been given a spin-off.
Which is not say Tom Hardy isn’t a good actor. The way he switches between characters so seamlessly is best shown in a scene where they do impressions of each other, and it’s difficult to tell where the two twins end. But if it weren’t for Hardy, Legend would probably be dismissed as an inconsistently-styled generic crime film. Which is a problem because there are some truly gruesome moments that do show the real nature of the Kray twins’ psychopathy – but they’re too scarce to make Legend credible in itself.
By the time it’s finished telling its story, Legend‘s switched between so many different tones that calculating an opinion means thinking of it as a series of things which happen, rather than a precise and controlled story. In Legend, we see moments from the Kray twins’ careers, but it’s never about one thing. A good biopic is about a specific event in a person’s life rather than one person and the events they’ve experienced. So the liberties taken with maintaining interest makes Legend a group of smaller scenes that have been joined together, some of them unintentionally amusing, mixed-in with a certain kind of violence that creates a disconnect between the two.
And it’s not even as if that’s a comment on the difference between them, because they’re so closely associated with each other that one twin very rarely experiences something the other doesn’t. So the only conclusion I can make is that Legend simply doesn’t understand what kind of a film it is. Which means I can’t really talk about it much, other than by describing why I don’t know exactly what I’ve been presented with. Legend is the definition of “I’ve got a mixed feeling about this”.