The Kray twins seem to provide an endless source of fascination for film-makers, with several films and documentaries on the subject of their notorious crimes. Perhaps the most well-known British gangsters, there is something intriguing about the story of two twins, strangely bound together and almost mirroring one another in personality, who rose to be violent criminals in sixties London. Brian Helgelend directs this modern take on the story of the infamous East End gangsters. This time around both brothers are played by Tom Hardy who delivers a mercurial performance, with the choice to play both roles never coming off as a cheap gimmick. Reggie is a suave club owner, charismatic and deeply in love with his girlfriend, Francis. Ronnie in contrast is a paranoid schizophrenic whose uncontrollable outbursts constantly threaten to derail their rise to power. Francis is played by Emily Browning, who delivers a fantastic performance as the fragile character swept up into the world of crime unexpectedly. There is also a good supporting cast including Christopher Eccleston, David Thewlis and John Sesssions.
The film lacks a little direction, which can partly be attributed to being based on a true story. The title may be some insight into the intention of the film to create a legend out of the tale of the Kray twins. To a certain extent it glamorises the lifestyle of clubs, money and celebrities that they surrounded themselves with. The consequences of their actions are brushed over and it is more of an entertaining take on what people might imagine the life of a gangster to be. The best parts of the film are the tragic romance of Reggie and Francis (Francis delivering a narration throughout the film) and any scene with Ronnie and his bizarre quirks. Tom Hardy's performance makes this film worth watching. It is not one of the best gangster films ever made. Being based on a true story they are constrained to some extent from making a narrative with theme or emotion brought to the fore. Instead it is a film that showcases the considerable talents of Hardy and Browning. There are many enjoyable scenes and it is hugely entertaining despite lacking any significant depth.