Tom Hardy got his grit-flecked teeth into yet another British crime biopic in Legend (2015), the latest adaptation of the life and times of the Kray twins. Having already played Charlie Bronson, followed by an epic portrayal of Bane in Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, he’s picked up a reputation for playing some pretty dark characters, but the latest will see him taking on two of the most notorious gangsters in British history as he portrays both Ronnie and Reggie Kray in the film.
The infamous mobsters spearheaded organised crime in the East End of London from the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s until their life prison sentence was handed to them in 1969. Along with their gang, known as the Firm, they had their hands in everything from armed robbery and protection rackets to arson, assault, and murder, so it’s not surprising that the story of their rise and fall is still drawing in audiences nearly fifty years after their incarceration.
Cinema: Legend had a UK release date of the 11th September 2015, but cinema goers on the US side of the pond had to wait until the 2nd October too see the film with a limited cinema release. It’s not the first big screen release focusing on the two London gangsters, with the last outing being the 1990 movie The Krays, which had the Kemp brothers doing the honours as the criminal brothers.
DVD, Blu-ray and digital download: The film made it’s way to DVD, Blu-ray and digital download in the UK in early 2016 with a release date of the 25th January 2016, and it will be distributed for home entertainment in the United States on the 1st March 2016. In addition to the standard Blu-ray release, there’s also a steelbook edition available, which looks impressive.
Taking it’s cue from John Pearson’s book, The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins, the story focuses on the brothers’ rise from East End thugs to crime boss status and subsequent arrest at the hands of Scotland Yard. The everything in-between is pretty gruesome and from the look of the trailer below, Tom Hardy will be taking it to extremes as usual.
All of the action takes place in the 1950s and 60s as London starts to get up to its swinging head of steam, by which time the brothers already had a very bad reputation. This built exponentially as they consolidated their control over London with a variety of criminal activity, but they managed to evade police for a long time due to the celebrity status they managed to build up, their intimidation methods and their connections.
The story also covers their eventual downfall as years of violent crime and gangster activity mounted against them towards the end of the 1960s. However, theirs is a long and drawn out fall from grace and when it does finally come for them it’s a sledge hammer blow of power from the authorities that brings them down as the 1960s start to draw to a close.
In addition to Tom Hardy (Mad Max (2015)) the cast is also made up of Emily Browning (Sucker Punch) as Reggie Kray’s wife Frances Shea, Taron Egerton (Eddie The Eagle film) as Edward “Mad Teddy” Smith and Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who) as Leonard “Nipper” Read, the DSI who eventually takes down Ronnie and Reggie Kray and their Firm. Colin Morgan (Humans) plays Frankie Shea, Frances’ brother and Reggie’s driver, David Thewlis plays Leslie Payne, the Krays’ erudite business manager and Paul Anderson (’71) plays Albert Donoghue, another key Firm gangster
Legend has been written directed by Brian Helgeland, who’s credits include writing L.A. Confidential and Man On Fire, so he’s no stranger to crime thrillers with a brutal edge. It was produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Christopher Clark and Quentin Curtis.
DVD and Blu-ray extras
DVD special features:
- Creating the Legend
- Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Brian Helgeland
Blu-ray special features:
All DVD extras plus…
- Digital Copy of Legend (Digital Copy redemption code subject to expiration. See product insert for details.)
- Includes UltraViolet (Subject to expiration. Go to NBCUCodes.com for details.)
Crime biopics have become a regular feature of books, TV and cinema for a while now, and while it may be tough trying to understand why they make such fascinating viewing, there’s probably an answer or two in the very musing. We’re often struck by the unnecessary glorification of villains throughout the ages and it feels like there’s an element of that here, but just as Scarface can be seen from two poles apart perspectives, so can The Krays’ notorious rise, fall and lengthy incarceration as portrayed in Brian Hangeland’s account.
That aside, Legend (2015) impresses with stunning style, which recreates the 60s in all of its swinging glory. Tom Hardy makes a pretty safe doppelganger pair of hands to cover the various intricacies of the glitzy villains of the mid century East End. Helgeland backs him up with the writing and directing creditss, helping the film land well. There’s a lot of intensity to it all and cinematography is an important feature in bringing the various sides of the situation to life. If you didn’t get to see it on the big screen it’s definitely on to watch now that it’s available on digital download, Blu-ray and DVD following its release in Jan 2016. Read our Legend DVD review to find out more.
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Legend (2015) trailer:
The DVD front cover may not look as impressive as the Blu-ray steelbook, but you can see some of the signet ring knuckle duster detail on Tom Hardy’s hand in the image above to get a sense of how menacing the real life Kray twins would have been.