A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Legend is a crime drama based on the real-life exploits of twin brothers Ronnie and Reggie Kray (both played by Tom Hardy), who dominated the London underworld in the 1960s. One is brutal and not quite sane, the other is brutal and cunning, and the film is filled with scenes of intense, difficult-to-watch violence that leave people bloody, battered, unconscious, or dead. There's a scene of torture involving electrodes, graphic shootings and stabbings, and a man physically abuses a woman (sexual assault is implied but not shown). Aside from the violence, there's plenty of drinking, smoking, and swearing (including "s--t," "f--k," and more), as well as some drug use (one character is dependent on pills and commits suicide by overdosing). Also expect some sexual references and a few passionate kisses.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In the 1960s, London's East End was controlled by twin brothers Ronnie and Reggie Kray (both played by Tom Hardy), vicious gangsters who loved a good fight and ruled through intimidation and brutal violence. LEGEND charts their rise to power as they eliminate their rivals and become involved in the swinging nightclub scene, which brings them into contact with the wealthy and powerful -- and eventually the American mafia. Reggie's girlfriend/wife, Frances (Emily Browning), narrates the tale, and Christopher Eccleston plays Nipper Read, the dogged Scotland Yard detective who's determined to bring the Krays to justice.
Is it any good?
In Legend, Hardy brings to life two different-but-similar characters in such an eerily authentic way that it's easy to forget the actor and his roles aren't one and the same. He's that fantastic in the film. Credit is due to the rest of the ensemble, too, who don't give in to the camp that can sometimes overtake period pieces, especially period pieces about the mafia. It helps that the movie is, at heart, a tale of relationships: between a man and a woman who make a connection that might ultimately destroy each other but also sustain each other, and between brothers, one of whom is tasked to care for the other in a way that makes it impossible for the caretaker not to be consumed.
But Legend does let its leading man down a little; Hardy's top-form acting isn't fully supported by the uneven script, which could have been much more complex and gone much deeper into the Krays' dysfunctional, mysterious relationship. It's a quibble, but not a distraction. In the end, Hardy overwhelms with his talent.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about loyalty. How important are Ronnie and Reggie to each other? What happens when one of them is asked to take sides against the other? When can loyalty become a liability?
Do you think all of the movie's violence is necessary to tell the story? How does the impact of what you see here compare to what you might experience in an action or horror movie? Does exposure to violent media desensitize kids to violence?
How does Legend's take on the 1960s U.K. crime mob compare to movies that show American organized crime during the same period? Can you see similarities and differences in the scenes when the Krays meet U.S. gangsters?
- In theaters: November 20, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: March 1, 2016
- Cast: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Christopher Eccleston
- Director: Brian Helgeland
- Studio: Universal Studios
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: History
- Run time: 131 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence, language throughout, some sexual and drug material
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