By Debra (UK)
The Krays, the original British film made in 1990 with the Kemp brothers was well-received on release and charted the brothers from early childhood to incarceration. As a biography, it works well and pursues a realistic, gritty storyline based on the known facts. Before settling down to the film for the first time, I was concerned to see how this film could put across a different perspective. I was also worried how one actor could convincingly portray both the twin brothers and still put across two separate individuals and make the audience believe he was two separate, distinct and different personalities. To attempt the task, it seemed to me, would take a very good and very brave actor.
Tom Hardy makes it look so easy, yet the task was mammoth. Reggie is sane, clever and ruthlessly dangerous; Ronnie is borderline psychotic, plain-speaking and unpredictably dangerous and both are exactly as I would imagine them in real life. At one point, the two brothers fight each other (how difficult must that scene have been to do??) and at no point during the whole fight is the audience not completely clear which brother does what to the other brother – fabulous and unbelievably brilliant at the same time, but there are many highlights to this film.
Emily Browning is superb as Reggie’s love interest with an understated fragility that makes her character sympathetic and serves as the perfect foil to Reggie’s slick and charming indifference to her pain, but she also interacts well with the character of Ronnie, who does notice her sadness and is perceptive enough to appreciate his brother is incapable of caring enough for her to want to try to fix the problems between them.
Providing another brilliantly contrasting ruthlessness is Paul Bettany’s portrayal of Charlie Richardson, who is perfect for the role.
Christopher Eccleston puts in a sterling performance as Nipper Read, the policeman who (eventually) brought the twins to Court.
David Thewlis, Kevin McNally, Tara Fitzgerald and Duffy are just some of the excellent supporting cast of actors who collectively contribute to make the film so memorably good.
Brian Hegleland has produced a well-imagined, very well written and slickly directed vision translated into film format of the time of the Kray twins. The resulting film is a credit to him; the story flows well and captures the conflicting social mores of the time without “dating” the film. Today, it is difficult to imagine a time when two violent, anarchic criminals could be regarded as local heroes but the fact is that at the time, the twins were credited with “keeping the streets clean”. Certainly, they ran a protection racket, but it was regarded as a necessary evil to keep street thugs from imposing their violence and extorting money for themselves. Brian Hegleland manages to convey the social ethos of the time with subtle touches so the audience barely notice the social commentary.
Tom Hardy quite rightly won three best actor awards for his performances in this film, but he is very ably supported by all the other cast members, all of whom contribute towards creating a film which in years to come will be regarded as arguably among the best of the films made in this genre.