Tom Hardy is Ronnie Kray. And Tom Hardy is Reggie Kray. And Tom Hardy is the only reason to check out this shockingly laudatory crime thriller based on the lives of London’s most notorious gangsters ever. Hardy is a wonder, carrying his body, comporting his face, and subtly shifting his voice in ways that never leave the viewer in any doubt as to which twin he is embodying at any given moment. But these are violent, narcissistic men with no thought for anyone but themselves (except, perhaps, the mother who worships them) as they rule the criminal underworld of London’s East End in the 1960s. They are not mythic or heroic or legendary, but writer-director Brian Helgeland treats them as such, introducing us to them as “gangster princes of the city they meant to conquer,” and depicting them as glamorous, sometimes even amusing, in their viciousness. This is GoodFellas-lite, deploying all the clichés of the genre but failing to come to any true understanding of what drives men like the Krays. Even if we cannot sympathize with their motives, we should understand them. And we never do.
Director: Brian Helgeland
Producer: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Chris Clark, Quentin Curtis and Brian Oliver
Cast: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, David Thewlis, Taron Egerton, Christopher Eccleston, Chazz Palminteri, Tara Fitzgerald, Paul Bettany, Colin Morgan, Paul Anderson, Stephen Lord and Duffy