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Legend (2015) Review

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Legend (2015)

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence and offensive language
Cast:
Tom Hardy as Ronald “Ronnie” Kray and Reginald “Reggie” Kray
Emily Browning as Frances Shea
Colin Morgan as Frankie Shea
Christopher Eccleston as Leonard “Nipper” Read
David Thewlis as Leslie Payne
Taron Egerton as Edward “Mad Teddy” Smith
Chazz Palminteri as Angelo Bruno
Paul Bettany as Charlie Richardson
Tara Fitzgerald as Mrs Shea
Aneurin Barnard as David Bailey
Paul Anderson as Albert Donoghue
Director: Brian Helgeland

In the 1960s, Reggie Kray (Tom Hardy) is a former boxer who has become an important part of the criminal underground in London. At the start of the film, his twin brother Ron (Tom Hardy) is locked up in a psychiatric hospital for insanity and paranoid schizophrenia. Reggie uses threats to obtain the premature release of his brother, who is rapidly discharged from hospital. The two brothers unite their efforts to control a large part of London’s criminal underworld. One of their first efforts is to muscle-in on the control of a local night club, using extortion and brutal violence.

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I was always aware of Legend being the movie where Tom Hardy plays two real life gangster twins known as the Krays. From the trailer it certainly looked like it had a lot of potential, and I generally like gangster movies. While it’s not as great as it could’ve been, it’s decent enough, and led by another great performance(s) from Tom Hardy.

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I’m not familiar with the stories about the Krays, but it sounds like there’s a lot of source material that could be used for a great movie. Unfortunately, the plot doesn’t really keep you engaged consistently. Some plotlines are interesting, others not so much. It’s actually a pretty standard gangster movie, with some issues with the script. The most annoying part for me was the narration, it was pretty much explaining everything but that’s not the worst part. The weirdest decision was having the narration by Reggie Kray’s wife played by Emily Browning, she wasn’t present for all the events that happen in the movie, so it was confusing why she was chosen. If they really wanted a narrator, they should’ve given it to Hardy or some other actor who wasn’t a character in the movie. The tone changes all the time, and not in a smart and balanced way, it’s all over the place, additionally you don’t really feel like you get to learn the main characters all that much. While the runtime of over 2 hours and 10 minutes seems like it would be the right length to cover the Krays’ stories, the film just moves a little too slowly to keep you constantly interested. Despite this, it feels like there’s some events the movie didn’t really cover, and instead chose to focus on some less interesting aspects. The script isn’t bad, it’s mostly passable, just not as interesting as it should’ve been.

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Tom Hardy is the main reason to watch this movie, as usual he’s fantastic and really elevated the film. Both the characters of Reggie and Ronnie Kray are very distinct, and Hardy embodies each of them effectively. Although not quite at the level of Hardy, the supporting cast is pretty good, with the likes of Emily Browning, Colin Morgan, Christopher Eccleston, David Thewlis, Taron Egerton and Chazz Palminteri giving some commendable performances.

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Legend is directed by Brian Helgeland, who did reasonably well with his filmmaking work on A Knight’s Tale and 42, but I knew him most for writing L.A. Confidential. His direction on Legend isn’t amazing, but was pretty good and worked for the movie. Now having one actor play dual performances on the screen at the same time isn’t a recent occurrence, but nonetheless they handled that aspect quite well, and made it look convincing.

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Legend had a lot of potential and unfortunately didn’t quite live up to it. For the most part it’s well made, and the cast are good, but although the script isn’t terrible, it’s definitely the weakest part of the movie unfortunately, and wasn’t quite the home run of a film that it looked like it would be at first. However, I’d say that it’s at least worth watching for Tom Hardy’s great performances.

Una (2017) Review

Time: 94 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Sex scenes, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast:
Rooney Mara as Una Spencer
Ben Mendelsohn as Ray Brooks
Ruby Stokes as Young Una Spencer
Indira Varma as Sonia
Tara Fitzgerald as Andrea
Tobias Menzies as Mark
Riz Ahmed as Scott
Natasha Little as Yvonne
Director: Benedict Andrews

With deeply unresolved questions about her past, Una (Rooney Mara) travels to another city, turning up unannounced at Ray’s (Ben Mendelsohn) work and dredging up a decade-old experience that he thought he’d left behind.

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Una was one of my most anticipated movies of 2016 (however it only really came out for the general audience in 2017). It was mainly the talent involved that had be interested, with Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn, with that level of talent I was interested in seeing their performances (and I’m pretty much willing to watch anything that Rooney Mara is in). Having finally seen Una, I can say that the film is pretty decent on its own, with its direction and writing. But it’s the performances that really makes this movie worth watching.

This film feels like a play, which is fitting since it was based off a play called Blackbird by David Harrower (who also adapted the play into the screenplay for Una). This movie’s pace is very steady and with that slow pace, the movie does lose my interest at points. The film really excels in the scenes between Rooney and Ben and every single one of them are riveting (I’ll get into them later). The scenes that aren’t between them are hit or miss, most of them are fine, but some of them just weren’t as interesting as a lot of the other scenes. You also really need to know that that this is a dialogue driven movie, there’s a lot of scenes where characters would just sit or stand and just talk for a long time. As for how it portrays the paedophile aspect, I personally think it was handled well, you don’t see any of the actions on screen (thankfully) but you hear Una and Ray mention what happened, and the film doesn’t shy away from this disturbing subject matter. It was balanced suitably. Aside from the pacing and some of the less interesting scenes, one other criticism I have is that the ending is a little jarring and sudden. I have a feeling that I know what they were going for but it nonetheless felt a little unsatisfying, perhaps that was what they were intending.

The highlights of Una as I stated before are the performances. First of all we have Rooney Mara delivering one of her best performances yet with Una, and considering the performances she’s given (especially The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Carol), that is saying a lot. Una is a complicavted person, when she tracks down Ray we don’t know her intentions, and that ambigiouty is shown so well by Mara. Every delivery of her lines, every expression and especially the way she conveys so many emotions through just a look, without even needing to say anything is simply excellent. It’s quite frankly a perfect performance. Just as good is Ben Mendelsohn who gives quite possibly his best performance yet. He doesn’t have an easy job, he’s playing a paedophile after all. The filmmakers and Mendelsohn present Ray as human as possible, which to be honest is the only way to really portray this character. Had this not been handled right it could’ve failed badly, but along with the way he’s presented, Ben Mendelsohn truly is incredible in this role, his performance was just as perfect as Rooney’s. The interactions between Rooney and Ben are the highlights of the movie, they shared excellent chemistry and worked off each other incredibly well. Ruby Stokes plays young Una in flashbacks and she is very good in her role, definitely deserves some praise as well. Riz Ahmed is in this movie and while he is good in his role, ultimately his role could be played by anyone.

This film is the directional debut of Benedict Andrews, he is a theatre director and you can really see that, not just in the way the dialogue is presented but the way the film is edited and directed. This film doesn’t have a flashy direction but that’s good, it doesn’t take away from the focus on the actors. Una is also shot very well, I don’t have any issues with the cinematography. The soundtrack, while not that spectacular does give a lot of the scenes an eerie vibe. In fact a lot of the scenes have an eerie, haunting vibe, from the music, to the camera shots, to the editing, and that helped to make many of the scenes tense, even when nothing is happening.

Una is pretty well written and directed well but really the best reason to see Una is for the performances. Both Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn given some of their best performances to date and are absolutely phenomenal. If you can handle the lurid subject matter, I recommend giving Una a watch. I’m not quite sure if I would call it a great movie but it has a lot of great aspects to it, especially the excellent acting.