Legend is either a truly fantastic star vehicle, or a fairly by-the-numbers gangland biopic. I prefer to think of it as the former, though the Sunset Boulevard-esque narration from Frances (Emily Browning), existing as it does on a see-saw between unnecessary and obnoxious, does rather coerce me at points to see it as the latter. Strong performances from pretty much all involved, inevitably overshadowed by Tom Hardy’s exhilarating, if slightly cartoonish, twofer performance (I also cannot shake comparisons from my mind between his Ronnie Kray and Peter O’Hanara-hanrahan from The Day Today), although I believe that Paul Bettany’s role in the film is perhaps all the more transformative.
A lot of very nice direction and cinematography, though not much of it original – many shots felt directly lifted from GoodFellas and The Long Good Friday – both of which are films that strike me as having considerably more re-watch value – Legend is a standard 3-star film that, when I first reviewed it, gained an extra half on the basis of the aesthetic positives of Hardy’s attractiveness. However, as I remember just how pointlessly drawn out the final act was, and the ripeness of Browning’s narration, I feel inclined to remove it.