This deeply flawed biopic, directed by Brian Helgeland, which often strays into the realms of cliché and occasionally overstates its obviousness is ultimately saved by two things and both of them are Tom Hardy’s central performances. Even here though the always captivating Hardy seems to invest more charisma and depth to Reggie, portraying him as a cocky cockney charmer, whilst Ronnie is almost reduced to comedy psycho status telling all and sundry in a deadpan manner ‘I’m a homosexual’ and ‘I prefer boys’ which has more in common with a bad Tommy Cooper impressionist than a fearsome gangster who ruled London’s East End: it would be only less convincing if he followed it up with an obligatory ‘Just like that’!
Despite this however one suspects that Hardy was asked to focus more on Reggie as it is essentially his story as told through the eyes of his wife Frances – a good supporting performance by Emily Browning- as their relationship develops and she finds herself more and more isolated from the dark and dangerous world her husband inhabits so seeks solace by numbing her loneliness and despair with pills which ultimately ends in tragedy and precipitates the brothers’ ultimate downfall and the collapse of their empire.
Along the way there is a host of other top British talent drafted in to prop up what is essentially Hardy’s film: David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston, Paul Bettany and John Sessions all turn in convincing performances as associates, rivals or both.
The period detail is pretty spot on although the cinematography doesn’t quite capture the grittiness of East End London in the 1960s and the default setting most films now turn to when trying to distil the essence of this era-the late twentieth century in general it would seem- of constant smoking becomes tiresome and overplayed when it is included in every single scene.
Better use could also have been made of the soundtrack which again lapsed into predictability especially when the sixties had such a plethora of great music which could have been to great use.
Ultimately though Legend doesn’t quite live up to its name or my expectations and often feels like an opportunity missed but even then it is not wholly without merit. I will admit to quite liking it and Hardy is exceptional but whether I would recommend anyone going to the cinema to see it then I would be more reticent in my enthusiasm.

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