WE ARE LEG­END

The true-life story of Bri­tain’s most no­to­ri­ous gang­sters gets another big-screen adap­ta­tion, as the man of the mo­ment TOM HARDY steps into both roles as THE KRAY TWINS. With plenty of cult po­ten­tial, we see what this ver­sion has to of­fer…

Starburst Magazine - - Contents - By Sa­man­tha Ward

A look at the new adap­ta­tion of the no­to­ri­ous KRAYS, with Tom Hardy play­ing both twins.

Hav­ing won a Best Adapted Screen­play Academy Award for L. A. Con­fi­den­tial (1997) and be­ing nom­i­nated for Mys­tic River (2003), Brian Hel­ge­land has proven his abil­ity as an ex­cep­tional screen­writer. Hel­ge­land has also writ­ten the screen­plays for A Night­mare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Mas­ter (1988), Tony Scott’s Man on Fire (2004) and Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood (2010) among many oth­ers. Writ­ing was not enough for Hel­ge­land, who started di­rect­ing in 1996 with an episode of Tales from the Crypt, then go­ing on to helm his first fea­ture Pay­back (1999) star­ring Mel Gib­son. In­ter­est­ingly, the di­rec­tor’s cut was al­most en­tirely dif­fer­ent to the orig­i­nal. With A Knight’s Tale, The Or­der and 43 also un­der his belt, Leg­end will be Hel­ge­land’s sixth fea­ture film as writer and di­rec­tor. Hope­fully, with all his previous ex­pe­ri­ences and skills, he will bring us some­thing gritty and wor­thy of a good old Bri­tish gang­ster flick. Leg­end is based on the true story of the no­to­ri­ous duo Regi­nald and Ron­ald Kray, aka Reg­gie and Ronnie. It’s a rise and fall story set in Lon­don dur­ing the 1950s and 1960s, the hey­day of the Kray twins, as Hel­ge­land sees us through var­i­ous points dur­ing the peak of their crim­i­nal ca­reers. Tom Hardy has taken on a dou­ble per­for­mance por­tray­ing both of the Kray twins, a role it seems he has pulled off with bril­liant ver­sa­til­ity. Por­tray­ing the dis­tinct dif­fer­ence be­tween both char­ac­ters has a lot to do with Hardy’s per­for­mance. With speech and man­ner­isms chang­ing be­tween the char­ac­ters with such nat­u­ral ease, you can ap­pre­ci­ate his en­tire com­mit­ment to both roles. Also, a lot has to be said for the makeup de­part­ment who have done an ex­cel­lent job in cre­at­ing prom­i­nent dif­fer­ences to Hardy’s phys­i­cal fea­tures to set the twins apart. Whilst Reg­gie seems to have kept his pretty boy fea­tures, Ronnie’s bro­ken nose and thick­set jaw are most no­tice­able and only add to his boor­ish be­hav­iour. Among a great cast is Welsh ac­tor Taron Eger­ton ( Kings­man: The Se­cret Ser­vice) a loose and loony mem­ber of ‘The Firm’, Paul Bet­tany ( Avengers: Age of Ul­tron) play­ing Char­lie Richard­son, the head of a sadis­tic ri­val gang, and Christo­pher Ec­cle­ston as De­tec­tive Su­per­in­ten­dent Leonard “Nip­per” Read, who leads a squadron in an at­tempt to bring the Krays to jus­tice. The film also stars gang­ster con­nois­seur Chazz Palminteri ( The Usual Sus­pects) and Aus­tralian ac­tress Emily Brown­ing ( Sucker Punch)

who por­trays Frances Shea, a love in­ter­est of Reg­gie’s who soon causes fric­tion be­tween the twins. The fore­front of or­gan­ised crime in the East End, Reg­gie and Ronnie prac­ti­cally owned Lon­don with in­flu­ences in high places and a heinous rep­u­ta­tion - in other words, their cocky cock­ney charm and their fists. From box­ers to crim­i­nals, the twins led a gang known as ‘The Firm’ who were in­volved in armed rob­beries, ar­son, as­saults and mur­der. In or­der to cover up their lu­cra­tive crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties, the twins ran West End night clubs, mix­ing with Hol­ly­wood stars from Judy Gar­land to Frank Si­na­tra, of­ten hav­ing pho­tos taken with en­ter­tain­ers and politi­cians, which turned them into celebri­ties in their own right. As close as the broth­ers were they both had huge dif­fer­ences in per­son­al­ity and men­tal­ity. Reg­gie was in the crim­i­nal busi­ness mostly out of need to pro­vide for his fam­ily, whereas Ronnie was in it for pure joy and may­hem. There is no doubt that the Krays led a ridicu­lously dan­ger­ous and lu­di­crous life­style, which has caused al sorts of con­spir­a­cies to run ram­pant. There have also been the twin’s own rev­e­la­tions in in­ter­views and books; Ronnie’s book My Story con­fesses his bi­sex­u­al­ity and Reg­gie opens up with his book Born Fighter about be­ing one half of a crim­i­nal dou­ble act. As well as books and count­less doc­u­men­taries, there’s al­ready been one fea­ture length film in 1990, The Krays, writ­ten by Philip Ridley and di­rected by Peter Medak. In this movie, the twins were por­trayed by Span­dau Bal­let broth­ers Gary and Martin Kemp. Though not twins, the Kemp broth­ers looked very much alike with enough dis­tinct fea­tures to set them apart, much like the real twins. Iron­i­cally, Gary - the el­dest Kemp - played younger twin Ronnie, who is more un­pre­dictable, whilst Martin played it more straight as Reg­gie. The Krays be­gins dur­ing the 1930’s Lon­don, fol­low­ing the twins grow­ing up in the East End with their dot­ing mother. Soon enough, they go from mother-cod­dled ruf­fi­ans to in­flu­en­tial gang­sters in their adult life; thugs with a mother com­plex. It’s a slightly sin­is­ter, gritty drama with clas­sic Bri­tish hu­mour, tragedy and hooli­gan­ism. Much dif­fer­ence can be seen be­tween Medak’s slower-paced drama and Hel­ge­land’s glossy Leg­end with quick cuts gar­nished with whim­si­cal­ity. Hel­ge­land’s knack for writ­ing great repar­tee is no­table and seems to fit per­fectly in this sheeny style of the swing­ing ’60s, revitalising their story and giv­ing it ex­tra en­ergy. De­spite these dif­fer­ences, how­ever, it seems that the theme of fam­ily re­la­tions and tragedy is still very much in the fore­front, just as it is in The Krays. Be­sides the style, for his own telling Hel­ge­land has taken a prom­i­nent sec­tion of the twin’s lives and cen­tres his film on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two broth­ers. He’s cre­ated a lot of ten­sion be­tween them, fo­cus­ing mostly on Reg­gie, the el­der by 10 min­utes and the more cun­ning, put-to­gether of the two. Though in no way con­sid­ered soft, Reg­gie is cer­tainly the calmer of the two as he has to grap­ple with Ronnie’s un­hinged and vi­o­lent be­hav­iour, while he tries to run their un­der­ground busi­ness. Ronnie is def­i­nitely more of a wild card; we see that Reg­gie has a tol­er­ance for his ab­surd be­hav­iour on the pure ba­sis that he’s blood and fam­ily, but it seems Ronnie may take his crazy an­tics over the edge. Con­tro­ver­sies will be raised, and the Twins will find them­selves in a con­fronta­tion with each on more than one oc­ca­sion. It looks noth­ing short of a glit­tery glam­ourised crim­i­nal life­style, but af­ter all, that is in­deed the life the twins used to lead. The ti­tle seems to say it all about the film and the Kray twins, the most in­fa­mous un­der­world thugs in Lon­don liv­ing it large with a man­ner of charm and fi­nesse, ‘liv­ing like a leg­end’. A mix­ture of vi­o­lence, wit and skewed fam­ily val­ues, Leg­end looks to be a promis­ing and ex­cit­ing ad­di­tion to the gang­ster genre. LEG­END opens in UK cin­e­mas on Septem­ber 9th.

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