In theory Legend has the potential to greatness. Films about notorious gangsters always intrigue. But if you let to twin brothers be portrayed by one phenomenal actor then that should make things so much more fascinating. Only this never happens.
The double role of Tom Hardy is the only highlight of this film everything else is borderline unimaginative and dull. And a lot has to do with the lack of story and the tone. For some reason Brian Helgeland (A Knight's Tale) though it was appropriate to keep things light. As like it were a black comedy of some sorts. The way Tom Hardy represents Ronald Kray is testament of that. His Ronald hardly seems a figure you could take seriously let alone be frightened off. Reggie Kray is portrayed a little more seriously but even when said doesn't really come across as someone who is ambitious and wants it all. Isn't that detracting from the evil men they were? Or was it the intention to mock them? Whatever the motivation it simply is not enough to keep things interesting. What is the point of having one actor portray two characters if you don't let them interact in compelling manner. Only in one or two scenes came it close and even then you simply knew nothing really bad was going to happen. If the point was of Ronald Kray to be unpredictable and therefore extremely dangerous then why not show us exactly that. Ronald was as menacing as a puppy barking at the bigger dog from afar. You never felt that both brothers had it in them to hurt each other. Whether that was true or not is irrelevant but it would have given the viewer some fireworks. And where was the crime? For a film that is about gangsters there wasn't much gangster business going on. Why not remind the public of why exactly the Kray brothers were so feared and notorious?
To make matters worse the film is told from Frances Shea's perspective. Mind you, in theory again this could have been truly compelling especially if it would explore the rumours about both Kray brothers being gay. Or if they would have gone deeper into her motivations being with Reggie. Was it really love? Was it the lifestyle? Was she really fragile or delicate as being mentioned a couple of times? Hell, I even would have settled for the cliche interactions and fights about the gangster not doing enough to go straight. Sadly none of this. What we get in return is a relationship devoid of any real conflict until the climax demands it and even then it's all done so subtly as if they were wanting to avoid hurting the people involved.
I just don't get what they were trying to do. It fails as a biopic, it fails as a crime drama, it fails as a black comedy. Basically it fails to tell a good story. Most of this film seems to be entirely based on the double role gimmick that in hindsight is not that interesting to waste time on. Overall Legend is incredibly disappointing on so many levels that I simply can't recommend this. If you want a better film about the Krays then I suggest The Krays from 1990 starring the Kemp brothers (Spandau Ballet).