by Glenn Lovell
The questions that looms while watching the gangster saga “Legend” is: Why?
Why do a biopic based on the lives of England’s infamous Kray twins, Reginald and Ronald, when an excellent one already exists in Peter Medak’s “The Krays,” starring Gary and Martin Kemp (of Spandau Ballet) and released in 1990? Medak’s film is strongly acted, rich in 1960s pre-Beatles ambience, and nightmarish in its grim reenactment of East End London rub-outs. It stands with “The Long Good Friday” and “Get Carter” as one of the most memorable post-“Godfather” gangster movies.
Why remake the film? Answer #1: As a vehicle/new challenge for the gruff, charismatic, endlessly talented Tom Hardy of “Lawless” and this year’s “The Revenant” and Mad Max blockbuster. Answer #2: “The Krays” barely cracked the art-house circuit, so there are many in this country who aren’t familiar with the Kray twins, who, during their East End reign of terror, garnered more ink in the tabloids than the lads from Liverpool.
Directed and scripted by Brian Helgeland from John Pearson’s nonfiction account, “Legend” pretty much covers the same ground as Medak’s movie. Only the new version isn’t nearly as well-directed or disturbing. Indeed, it feels lax in its pacing …
LEGEND. With Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Taron Egerton, Sam Spruell, David Thewlis. Directed, scripted by Brian Helgeland from John Pearson’s “The Profession of Violence.” 131 min. R (for profanity, torture, graphic gangland violence)