Starring: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, David Thewlis, Paul Bettany, Christopher Eccleston, Taron Edgerton, Duffy, Chazz Palminteri
Directed By: Brian Helgeland
Before I get into it, Tom Hardy is fucking brilliant in this film. He’s had an amazing year, with Mad Max, this, and The Revenant. It would be a shame for the Oscars to forget him again, considering how many memorable performances he keeps etching on his list. There was Locke, The Drop, Warrior, The Dark Knight Rises, and Inception all in recent years that have shown us that Tom Hardy means business. He’s a serious actor. He deserves recognition. He’s basically the only reason to see Legend. And, he does it twice, in two very different roles.
Yes, Tom Hardy does a hat trick and plays twin brothers. Usually, it’s a gimmick (paging Hayley Mills), but here it is actually brilliant and really well done. Hardy actually seems like two entirely different people, which is interesting since he spends most of the time talking to himself. But, he’s really the only good thing about Legend, which is a shame, because Brian Helgeland is able to do so much better.
I thought Emily Browning was miscast. She still comes across very childlike in her acting, and expecting her to be grown up and be Tom Hardy’s love interest here was a miscalculation. Also, underusing your incredibly talented supporting cast, namely Paul Bettany and Christopher Eccleston, was your second mistake. Yes, Hardy is brilliant, but it’s OK to allow your supporting cast to shine too. Think Goodfellas. Yes, Ray Liotta was brilliant, but so was Pesci.
Legend could actually learn a lot from Goodfellas, which is a much better mob movie. Instead, we are stuck with a film I’m not sure has any idea what it really wants to be at the core. It juggles being a historical biopic with the traditional mobster formula, and instead of focusing on the “family” that we see in so many mob movies, focuses just on two guys (and occasionally Browning). Perhaps it was Browning’s weak performance that caused the film to be thrown more at Hardy in the editing room. I don’t know. Casting her was a mistake. I don’t dislike her as an actress, but she was 100% wrong for this film. I was literally shocked when I found out she was 27. I would have guessed 19-20, which puts her at looking like almost 20 years younger than Tom Hardy. It looks like he has a child bride. I know that wasn’t intentional, but it was distracting because I felt like it was implied the whole time.
The film felt really long too. I wanted it to end so badly, but it just kept going, and I wasn’t really sure what the whole point was. You can’t just use cool tracking shots, flashy nightclubs, and random acts of violence as filler. Everything should compliment the story. Here, it feels like the audience is a baby and we’re being shown shiny things to keep us distracted from noticing that we’re actually bored with the film.
I can forgive a lot of the films shortcomings in the end, because Tom Hardy is a force to be reckoned with. I’ve seen a lot of really amazing Best Actor contenders so far this year, but he’s near the top. Hopefully, he’ll wind up with his first nomination. It’s time.
FINAL GRADE: C+