Fade in on London in the 1960’s. A female voice (Emily Browning) narrates our story. The story of the Crays twins, infamous Gangster Princes of the East End. One suave and loquacious, the other gritty and a little bent.
Legend’s first hour is exceptional. It’s what I was expecting walking in, with Tom Hardy playing both sides of a warped coin. One side is Reggie: the cheerful scoundrel, giving a nod and a wink to mister policeman, courting and fascinating a pretty girl, all the while ruling his underground kingdom with an almost effervescent viciousness. Ronny, on the other hand, is funny yet paranoid; he’s impossible to predict.
The introduction of Frances (Browning again) early on is charming (though the height discrepancy between her and Hardy seems a trifle discordant). The story maintains a brisk pace, with a wonderful cameo from Paul Bettany and some crisply-executed fight scenes.
And then it slows down to a crawl. Romance is dethroned by angst as the movie drags on and on. You begin to wonder when it’s going to finish. The morally grey tone darkens to midnight black, and all you can do is shrug and wonder if you enjoyed it at all.