In Defence of Jason Statham

Before you aggressively stab the ‘back’ button on your browser please hear me out. I’m not going to try and convince you that Jason Statham is the Laurence Olivier of our time or that he should have won an Oscar for his work in Furious 7 (or Fast and Furious 7 or whatever it wants to call itself on any given day). However, I am going to attempt to make you understand why he is one of my favourite actors working today.

There is a strange sense of snobbery when it comes to Statham and his films. Much of his work is dismissed as vacuous noise, blurs of movement and scowling and sparse, grumbled dialogue of little to no consequence. But how is this any different to Steven Seagal’s bobbins output; Under Siege aside, Seagal has never done anything half decent, the bloke is essentially a leather jacketed, oaken wardrobe who became sentient after a sorcerer lost a bet. And don’t even get me started on Chuck Norris. There is just something eternally wonderful about watching Statham. His beautiful bald head, with his stern, furrowed expression, bobbing and weaving through a myriad of flailing arms and legs as he beats the living daylights out of a bunch of snarling heavies. It’s almost balletic.

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The most important thing when watching an early Statham film (i.e. The Transporter, Crank) is that there is no point in looking for layers or subtilty. These films are pure in their attempts to assault you with as much noise, zippy scene cuts, and high concept nonsense as possible. Crank is the epitome of these values. Statham is Chev Chelios (a delightfully stupid name if there ever was one), a hitman who is betrayed and injected with some synthetic drug (Vimto perhaps?) which means he must keep his adrenaline up otherwise his heart will stop. Cue 80 minutes or so of car chases, shootouts, iffy puns, and the inevitable HELICOPTER FIGHT! It’s breathless stuff and Statham carries the entire film on his wonderfully muscular and broad shoulders. It’s no Die Hard (what is) but it is about as camp and silly as action films can get before it falls into true parody and it is all the better for it. Yes, the sequel failed to keep on the right side of that line (he charges himself up with a car battery, there’s a living floating head in a fish tank), but for sheer gleeful joy Crank is hard to beat.

If you trace your finger down his filmography you can see his attempts to widen his range. He keeps well within the action genre for the most part, however, his later roles (Hummingbird, Wild Card, Home Front) start to show Statham’s ability to bring some vestiges of emotional intensity when required. With Hummingbird in particular we see him as a emotionally unstable, homeless alcoholic, and follow him through his attempt to improve his life only to be thwarted by events around him. It’s probably Statham’s most devastating performance to date, powerful, compelling and committed, and I dare you not to be moved/saddened by the ending.

He also begins to stretch into films with a little more bite and nifty scripting (Blitz, Safe) instead of those with just a linear journey. Blitz in particularly fascinating ensemble piece, featuring some heavy acting talent such as Paddy Considine, David Morrissey and Aidan Gillen, and while it does stumble and stutter in parts, it’s still a pretty decent little cop/killer thriller.

Statham’s geezery vibe and self awareness of his own typecasting has also gave us opportunities to see his most potent weapon, his comedy timing. We see flashes of it in Lock Stock, Snatch and the Expendables series. His wonderful look of disdain, his withering gawps of incredulousness often steal the scenes they are in, and he can deliver a cheesy zinger with the best of them. However, his magnum opus is Spy. Playing an arrogant, incompetent spy suits Statham down to the ground. His unshowy style of acting means that when delivers a line such as, “I’ve swallowed enough microchips and shit them back out again to make a computer,”  completely straight faced, it’s nigh on impossible to not to burst out laughing. He riffs on all he has done before, rips away the facade of a perfect hitman that he built in The Transporter and makes us all howl as he makes a dramatic exit on a boat only to realise he’s stuck on a lake.

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All in all, Statham is the perfect modern action hero. He’s got enough acting chops to hold 90 minutes of our attention, he does a huge percentage of his own stunts, he’s not afraid to make himself look like an idiot, and he understands what is required for a no nonsense slab of entertainment. (Also helps that he’s a rather good looking bloke).

His next film will be Mechanic: Resurrection as he slips back into that stylish Arthur Bishop jacket and I can guarantee I will be keeping a tenner back to see it.

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My Top 5 BookTubers

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Like many, I get a lot of inspiration to read from YouTube. When I have no idea what I want to read, I log onto my favourite channels and see what they’re reading and even when i’m in a reading slump, it helps me out of it.
I could have given you a list off at least fifty channels that i subscribe to and check daily but i thought I’d share my top five channels, the ones I first check when i need some reading ideas.
Peruse Project
Regan is probably my first go to channel. She posts videos regularly and I trust her reviews completely. Her channel is a mix of book hauls, book reviews and favourites mixed with the odd book tag. Regan is a self-confessed lover of fantasy which is a genre I am generally terrified to pick up but she’s always honest with how she found a book and she’s not scared to say if she hated a book meaning that when I’m browsing book shelves I feel a little more confident in what I’m buying.
A Book Utopia
I simply adore this channel; Sasha is always full of energy and her energy comes through in her videos. Having only just read the Harry Potter series, she’s a newly converted super fan and being a fan makes me like her and trust her more. She has a great range of videos, she has the usual collections of hauls, wrap ups and TBRs but she also constantly posts fun tags and she’s not scared to take her camera out and about with her when he visits book stores/goes travelling. On top of this she hosts a read-along with Regan where each month they chose a book for their book club PeruseUtopia which I generally try and read along with.
Heart Full of Books
Twins, Bee and Maddie, are girls after my own heart, they love young adult fiction and they’re not ashamed of it. They’re currently in their first year of uni and they’ve took their YouTube channel with them. Again they have the usual host of videos (hauls, TBR’s, etc.) but they’re the go to girls if you want to know more about young adult or romance.
Lucy The Reader
I first came across Lucy’s channel when I was trying to find information on books about anxiety, when I found her channel, I was hooked. Lucy is a fan of young adult and classics but she also explores subjects which many people wouldn’t touch upon. I’ve seen videos on her channel about anxiety, feminism and menstruation to name a few. I have a massive respect for her given that she is happy to openly talk about those topics, reaching out to a younger audience who could possibly feel embarrassed or reserved about these subjects. Lucy also has a monthly video in French, which I understand none of but appreciate she is reaching out to a wider audience. I believe she is currently writing a book where the main character suffers anxiety and as soon as it’s out, I’ll be there waiting in line to buy it.
Read By Zoe
Zoe’s reading choices are exactly like mine. I’ve lost count of how many books I’ve seen her review that I loved already or books that she’s reviewed and I’ve completely loved as a result. She mostly posts the usual videos but she spent a year studying in England and I loved following her adventures over here. Zoe generally reads a mixture of young adult and romance and I constantly feel I can relate to her book emotions.
If you like the sound of any of these channels, please check them out. There are so many more that I could have mentioned but these five I just relate to that little bit more.

Card Game: Adventure Time Love Letter

2-4 players. Ages 10+. Play Time 20 Mins. (Approx £10)

First off this is a beautiful game in more way than one.

So, let’s have a look at what we get in the box. You get 16 beautifully decorated cards, 13 Tokens of Affection, 4 reference cards and 1 small yet perfectly formed instruction booklet. That’s it, all you get. and yet for what seems like so little you get a lot of fun.

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The theme has been well thought out with all your favourite characters present, we’ve got (among others) Finn and Jake, LSP, Marceline, The Ice King, and of course, the main show Princess Bubblegum, who we will all be trying to get our love missive to with all the vigour of vying for the last piece of chicken in a KFC family bucket. The cards have all had some wonderful work put into them and are all given a level between 1 and 8. The characters have all been placed in period costume, in keeping with the feeling of the original version of Love Letter and gives a feeling an old fashioned romance story (think Cyrano De Bergerac meets Cartoon Network). The tokens of affection have been adapted as well, the wooden red cubes of the original version have been replaced with odd shaped multi-colour plastic tokens, another well thought out addition in keeping with the theme.

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Original Love Letter.

The instructions are really clear, concise and small. A sign of a good game is short yet clear instructions in my opinion. They even include little quick reference cards for each player, though all the cards state on them what they do when discarded the reference cards do come in handy for learning what all the cards are and what they do. Once you know all the different cards (there are only 8 different things that they do) you can probably leave them in the box. 

The play goes in rounds, at the start of the round you receive one card each with a draw pile in the middle. When it comes to your turn you pick up one card put in your hand and choose which of the two in your hand you would like to discard, each card having a different effect when discarded (the cards all state on them what they do, and any further clarification can be found in the rules booklet). The end of the round occurs when there are no more cards left, with whoever has the highest number on their card winning the round. They get their letter delivered to the princess and receive a token of affection in return. The end of the round can also occur before this if all players bar one gets knocked out due to the cards played. The winner of the game is declared once one player gets to 4, 5 or 7 tokens of affection collected, depending on how may players there are.

 

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The pick a card and play a card nature of the game makes it beautifully simple. There is only ever one choice to make each turn, and yet it can be an agonisingly hard one at times. With The Gossip (level 3) card you can choose another player to show your hand to, whoever has the lower number gets knocked out the round, sometimes this can be a dead cert if you have The Princess (level 8, the highest level) or risky business if your other card is only, say The Hero (level 4), there’s a good chance your opponent has a higher value card. There are cards that can protect you from other player’s conniving plans, there are cards that can help to ruin other people’s plan. It’s so simple, you can pick it up and be playing within a few minutes, and yet as is often the case with it’s simplicity out comes the complexity of the decisions you have to make.

Depending on what cards pop up the round can last a few seconds or several minutes. The quick rounds make it a quick game, less than 30 mins so, along with it’s small but mighty size it’s great to take with you and have a little game on a long journey, or if you’re having a picnic in the park, a quick pint down the pub, or as a starter game for a games night!

Over all this is a great small game. it’s so simple to pick up and yet it can be taxing as you’re trying to guess what cards your opponents have and which card would be best to discard. It’s a great game for kids, (the box says 10+ but I would say that kids a bit younger than this would be able to play and enjoy it too) especially this Adventure Time version or even just a time filler or as a starter game for a big games night.  I highly recommend Adventure Time Love Letter. The game play is the same as the original so if Adventure Time is not your bag there are various other versions like Batman, The Hobbit and the good ol’ original version to choose from too.

★★★★★

Street Fighter V Is Not Worth Your Money Right Now

Disclaimer – This is not a review, I don’t own Street Fighter V.

Street Fighter V developed by Capcom is the latest instalment in arguably the most famous fighting game franchise in the world but that doesn’t excuse the severe lack content in this full priced game that they’ve put out last week. 

Missing Features

Games having new features added after launch is nothing new and in most cases it’s usually a benefit to the player. Content can be added to either improve the experience or fix a problem players are having, both good things. The problem with Street Fighter is that they have left out game modes that most fighting games have launch. They have promised to add these in a free updates throughout the year (at currently undisclosed dates) but at the the time of writing these options are only viewable on the in-game menus but just greyed out so that you can’t select them. 

This includes:

Arcade Mode – A single player mode where you fight through 10 or so CPU opponents with a boss at the end. This has been included in almost every fighting game ever.

Challenge Mode – Presents the player with a number of increasingly hard moves and combos to perform specific to each character. In Street Fighter IV these were a great way to actually learn how to play without having to consult online guides. They have also announced daily challenges will show up here from march so you can earn some bonuses but no details are currently available. 

Online Lobbies – Where you can get together with up to 8 people and take turns fighting each other with the winner going on to face the next challenger. As it stands you can only connect with 1 friend at a time.

Spectator Mode – In this mode you can spectate live fights other players are having and will be able to search for players or matches involving specific characters.

Story Mode – Reportedly a cinematic story mode involving all the characters but there hasn’t been any footage of this shown anywhere. This is said to coming in June.

In-game Store – The place where you can buy the additional characters and new outfits with real money or currency you can earn by playing the game. This part is especially weird as you can earn the right to buy the new costumes in game but you’re not allowed to actually buy them until they open the store in march.


Confusing In-game Currency

Street Fighter 5 plans to release more characters at a rate of one a month. Adding extra downloadable fighters is nothing new to modern fighting games but usually the company waits a few months before releasing more things for you to buy. It does make wonder whether the characters releasing shortly needed some extra development time or if they were held back so they could sell them to us later. 

Now some staunch defenders of this game will tell you that all off the DLC characters can be purchased using in-game currency which is technically correct. But as the game stands it would take a very long time to earn enough to purchase all of the characters they’ve announced so far. 

For the average player once you finish all the single player content in the game right now minus the hard modes you’ll end up with about 250,000 Fight Money (which is SF5’s in-game currency). The new characters are 100,000 and the new costumes are 40,000 so you’d be able to get 2 characters and 1 costume. After this the only way to earn more is by winning online matches which might not sound too bad if you’re good at the game. But for anyone new to the game depending on who you get matched with it could be impossible for you to win, especially with the lack of tutorials in the game. 

You get around 50 Fight Money for winning an online match meaning you’d have to win 800 ranked matches for a costume and 2000 for a new character. So any low skilled player will be heavily encouraged to just pay some real money to unlock things or they’ll just stop playing altogether which isn’t good either. 

To me this just doesn’t seem right for a full priced game. You’ll notice that most of the things that are missing are single player modes. While I agree that the main attraction of Street Fighter is the 2 player versus mode there is almost nothing to play for beginners or people who don’t like online gaming. There are almost no tools within the game to teach yourself how to play either which shouldn’t be happening in this day and age. You shouldn’t have to go online just to understand how the game you paid for works.

Supposedly it was released early so that players would have it in time for some big american tournaments coming up shortly, which most players who just pick this up on a whim will have no idea about. Capcom had not made this very clear leading up to this, evident by the amount of people who have been left regretting their purchase. They should have just waited until everything was ready and released it in June or charged a lower price for the version they put out. 

Personally I’ll be waiting until there is a price drop before I pick this up which is very disappointing because I’m a big Street Fighter fan. I am only writing this as a potential warning just so people know what they are getting into if they are on the fence. Now if anyone needs me I’ll be watching Street Fighter: The Movie to cheer myself up.

  

The Naff Nic Season: Left Behind

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When i set myself this challenge I expected it to be bad.. but nothing could prepare me for Left Behind

*I’m just sobbing looking at this promotional pic above… i’ll give you a hint… the film isn’t much better*

(110 Mins, Rated PG) (spoilers ahead)

I’m going to start this review by saying this is definitely in my top ten worst films of all time. I’ve stared at pigeons in the street pecking at a half eaten McChicken sandwich and been more entertained. I’ve accidently rubbed my eye after handling a jalepeno and learned more about my life than i did watching this film. You must understand this is a bad film, and not even The Room bad.

We start with a daughter coming home to see her parents, Irene (Jesus loving mom (Lea Thompson who should know better) and philandering father Rayford (!?!) (Nicolas Cage, who should also know better but is a rogue operator at the best of times)) for her father’s birthday but finds her dad has buggered off to work instead. So she skulks around the airport and meets ‘handsome’ reporter (Chad Michael Murray doing what he does best, standing there trying to act), shoots the shit a bit, and then he gets on the plane her father is piloting.

Then there is a flash of light, people and children disappear and everyone starts to scream, school buses fall dramatically but not dramatically off bridges, evil bearded men loot shops and bags, a random light aircraft plummets into our heroine’s car for no apparent reason apart from to set up further random and mildly pointless encounters as she walks about, and some British woman in sunglasses takes some toot in the airplane toilet because that makes everything better. Our intelligence is also insulted with some unsubtle foreshadowing where Chloe passes a ‘ROAD CLOSED AHEAD’ sign and the camera lingers, showing us that this is where the film is going to end and being really bloody obvious about it.

We are aggressively battered over the head early with character’s motives in some ridiculous  scenes like mother and daughter having an argument over God over some homemade lemonade, argument in the airport between Chloe and the crazy God lady with an intense Elton John eyebrow. Basically the first half an hour of this film is a series of arguments punctuated with walking and driving, and unfortunately, because this film was seemingly written by a malfunctioning computer programme, none of these ‘set-up’ scenes actually work in any way, shape or form.

Let’s also just acknowledge the utter shit that is the dialogue. It’s all clunky as a pair of cardboard box bollocks. There’s lots of meaningful breathy delivery, quivering tears in their eyes, some ludicrous scenes that defy belief like the Defence department guy who just tells some random bloke about his work at the Defence department in the middle of the plane where pretty much everyone can hear them. None of it feels fresh, everything feels staid, like the screenwriter has thumbed through a book of a 1000 film filler lines and thought they’d all do.

According to this film children are all so pure as they all get taken up by our Lord. So apparently we should be like children, innocent and non-judgemental. Maybe the Lord can overlook the other things like shitting our pants, eating worms and insects, stealing homework and screaming wildly in restaurants because our chicken nuggets had a little too much of a kick to them.

A particular note must be made about the music/soundtrack because it is spectacularly bad. Plinky plonk piano, MOR guitar strumming, punctuated by pointless chirpy saxophone which adds nothing but an irritating whine in your ears to compliment the utter faeces on screen. Luckily someone seems to turn the volume down after about 45 minutes so we can all just concentrate on being visually assaulted.

Performance wise there is very little to get excited about. Cage is flat, uninspired, and this is definitely a tax job. He spends most of the running time looking like a constipated shrew trying to keep a check on his loose sphincter. There might as well have been a Nicolas Cage cut out moved amongst scenes. His hair should really get its own credit however. It’s a delicately mussed bouffant and clearly doused in some Grecian 2000, maybe a couple of hair plugs for good measure, and steals most scenes that it’s viewable in. Chad Michael Murray spends his time mildly squinting like he has some sort of eye infection, like a camel wandering through the desert without eyelashes. He’s the cynical reporter who is caught up in the midst of the action on the plane and seems to be the only one able to keep his shit together but on the whole his character is actually pretty useless. His one helpful piece of dialogue being ‘I need you to open the Compass app,’ and even then, what the fuck.

Cassi Thomson as Chloe probably gets the most to do. She’s alright, she’s definitely not as terrible as Cage and adds a bit more nuance than Michael Murray but her character is taken straight from the ‘college girl hero’ trope book, rebellious against her mother’s current jesus lovey-dovey-ness, good looking and spunky, can seemingly do everything (drive car, ride and motorbike, drive a steam roller ?!??), and there is never any chance of her dying or failing at any point and so all sense of suspense is lost.

Everything in this film is unconvincing, from the acting to the script to the visual effects. In most of Cage’s garbage films there are glimpses of something remotely decent, but he doesn’t even have the decency to yell a bit and go all googly eyed. There was scope here for a bit of humour or something a little more self aware, but Left Behind is done with such sincerity and is so po-faced in its execution that it becomes unbearable. There are more redeeming features in the Asda ‘Whoops!’ section than there are on display in this film so it is no surprise in the slightest that this is the worst rated Nicolas Cage of all time so far.

IMDB rating – 3.1

My rating – ☆☆☆☆☆ (it doesn’t even deserve a half. I felt my last vestiges of joy leave my body around 35 minutes in)

February Book Haul

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That time of year has rolled round again… I’ve turned a year older and it’s becoming less and less acceptable for me to love young adult literature as much as I do.

Once again, my family and friends have been very generous and I’ve received a few books which I’m extremely excited to read so I thought I’d share them with you and prepare you guys for my reviews in the coming months.

So here goes, these are what have been gifted to me/I’ve bought with my birthday money:

Quidditch Through The Ages (J K Rowling) – Unless you have been living in a cave for the last ten year or you have no interest in books (and if so why are you reading this?!) image5then you’ll be familiar with the Harry Potter series and the fictional sport of quidditch. This book is a recreation of a book that the characters read throughout the Potter series and it quite simply tells the history of the sport

Down The Rabbit Hole (Juan Pablo Villalobos) – I’ll be perfectly honest when I tell you that I don’t know much about this book. I know that it has been translated from Spanish and that  it’s only 70 pages long. Both these facts are appealing to me. From what I know, the story follows a young boy, Tochtli, who is the son of a Mexican drug baron and shows how an innocent boy lives in a corrupt society. Like I say though, I don’t know much about it so this could all be wrong.

A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness) – I’ve heard a lot of people talking a
bout Patrick Ness and a lot of those people rave about him so when I saw A Monster Calls for £1.00 in Oxfam I thought I may as well pick it up. I have a vague idea what the book is about, it follows Connor, a kid who has a sick mother and through all the stress and worry about having to look after her he begins to have nightmares. One night Connor meets a ‘monster’ which forces him to face and confront his daemons. Now I have no idea what the monster is but I’m assuming it’s not an actual monster and with all the amazing reviews, I’m expecting it to be something pretty special.

All The Birds In The Sky (Charlie Jane Anders) – Again I don’t have too much knowledge on what this is about. I was in Waterstones with my flatmate who saw the cover and thought I would find it pretty.  I did. She then read out the blurb and I like the idea of the image4book a little more. We have two main characters in this novel, Patricia and Laurence. Patricia can communicate with animals and Laurence has created a time machine. Something happens that puts the future in danger and it is up to Patricia and Laurence to team up and save the future.

Lorali (Laura Dockrill) – I was watching videos on YouTube where someone was doing their own book haul and they mentioned this. They also mentioned that it has mermaids and that’s when I realised I’ve never read a book about mermaids. Rory turns sixteen and finds a naked girl washed up under a pier but he soon comes to find out there’s more to it. More strange people begin to turn up and Rory finds himself trying to protect the girl, Lorali, who was washed up. Who also happens to be a mermaid by the way…

I’ll Give You The Sun (Jandy Nelson) – Twin sisters, Jude and Noah, were once close but a tragedy strikes and it tears the sisters apart. Once again I don’t know much more about this but I’m looking forward to finding out what tore the family apart and if they will eventually come back together (it’s young adult, they probably will.) The book has been likened to John Green and Rainbow Rowell, both authors I have read and loved so if this is even half as good as their novels then I’ll be happy.image3

The Beginning of Everything (Robyn Schneider) – A typically young adult book, from what I can gather Ezra is popular in school but gets in a car accident where his leg gets crushed and shattered, his girlfriend also cheats on him meaning that he becomes less popular and he finds himself sitting with the misfits at homecoming. Ezra meets Cassidy. Ezra and Cassidy fall in love but will tragedy strike again?

Anna and the French Kiss (Stephanie Perkins) – Now I love Paris, in fact I love it so much that I have an Eiffel Tower tattoo so if anything is set in Paris I will buy it, I will read it and I will love it. I don’t care if it’s awful, I will love it because it has Paris. Anna and the French Kiss is the first instalment in a trilogy, it tells the story of Anna who moves to Paris for a year to go to boarding school.  When she’s in Paris, Anna meets Etienne, a beautiful French boy who is unfortunately taken.  I’ve had people tell me that this book has one of the best image2relationships in young adult lit so I’ll be reading ASAP. I mean Paris and French boys? What’s not to love?


Me Before You (Jojo Moyes) –
I wanted this only because the film is coming out and I wanted to read the book before I see the film. Lou is in an unhappy relationship and she meets Will who has been in a motorcycle accident and has no will to live since he lost the use of his legs. When Will and Lou meet, they’re determined to change each other’s lives. Lou wants to show Will that he can live a happy life and Will wants to show Lou that she is bigger than the small town she lives in. I’ve been told to have the tissues ready for this one.

Grace & Style (Grace Helbig) – Now I’ve been following Grace on YouTube for years, since she was vlogging for My Damn Channel and before she wentimage6 solo. I’ve loved her since the first video I watched her in. I appreciate her humour has never changed and she has always done what she wants to do, making her YouTube channel relatable and fun. When Grace released her first book, The Art Of Pretending to Be A Grow- Up, I rushed out to buy it in order to support her. The first book was charming and fun so when book two, Grace & Style, came out I once again rushed to buy it. This book is full of advice (fashion and probably a bit of lie) direct from Grace.

If you’d like to see any of these books reviewed, please comment below 🙂

Film: Legend

Legend has recently made it’s way onto DVD, so having missed it at the cinema I thought I’d pick it up and give it a go.

I must admit, I’m a bit of a sucker when it comes to movies set in 60s swinging London. I love Austin Powers (Yeah baby!), and The Beatles’ films like Yellow Submarine, and while the film does a marvelous job of immersing you in the time period, Austin Powers this is not.

Legend does really does go to town with the 60s setting. I could feel that special buzz the time period evokes. The excitement of a city emerging from the dour and oppressive 50s shines through. The now retro designs of their surroundings, the flowery wallpaper and the ladies dresses all combine in the perfect way to make you feel a heavy nostalgia for the time period (even if, like me, you were never there).

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We meet our protagonists wearing black suits and ties, setting the tone for the film, like the Krays themselves, this is serious business. The brutality of the brothers shines through with scenes including Reggie beating a rival gang with knuckle dusters while Ronnie beats them with a hammer to the head, where betrayers and rivals are killed with barely a moment’s notice. This is not something for the easily offended or the faint hearted.

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The performances are mostly on par, with some great appearances from the likes of David Thewlis as the detective always on the tail of the brothers, trying to catch them in the act and Taron Egerton as one of the lower down lackeys of the gang.  Tom Hardy does a great job of bringing not one but two of the nation’s most notorious gangsters to life. Though they were identical twins, they were very different (even physically as well as in personality) and Hardy is able to provide a distinction between the two, which limits the confusion between which twin is which, even with the similar names.
Ronnie had some serious mental health issues which is addressed early on as we are told by the Narrator (who is also Reggie’s wife) about how he was institutionalised at one point and needed constant medication to stabilise his moods. Ronnie’s homosexuality it dealt with in a mature way and gives us a glimps of his world of wild sex parties (and there’s some great tips on how to blackmail members of parliament too).  However I felt that Hardy could have gone a bit further with his portrayal of Romnie, I never really felt that I got to know him beyond that he got angry, was a terrible businessman and had kinky parties. Something similar could be said for Reggie we never really know what makes him tick, or why he’s interested in becoming London’s biggest gangster, why is it important to him?  Is it to prove a point? Get more money? Just to be a big man? Or just because he likes his brother and that’s what he wants to do? I don’t know, because it’s never really addressed. Reggie’s wife, Frances (Emily Browning) seems a little two dimensional at times as well. The relationship gets far less screen time than it should have done, I really wanted the story to get into what was happening between the two characters .

legend spank

I think this is my main problem with the film.  It tries to tell so many different aspects of the Krays, that you only get a very shallow view of their world.  Like the relationship between Reggie and Frances I don’t feel that legend was able to portray the relationship between Ronnie and Reggie as much as I would have liked. Perhaps it had something to do with Hardy playing both roles, sometimes you just need someone else there to react to and bounce off of. With the absence of a deep, clear story line I always felt like an outsider looking onto their world rather than feeling inside it. When you look back at some of the greatest gangster films like Goodfellas there is a strong main character who takes us through their journey from starting out to gaining notoriety and fame in their chosen profession, there’s a feeling of being there, being part of the action. That’s what makes those films so iconic, so great. You don’t get that with Legend. It’s narrated by Reggie’s wife which puts a certain distance between the audience and the two main characters. By trying to tell so much about what the Krays did it tells us very little about who they were, which for me, is the most interesting part of being a gangster, the human aspect. An aspect I found sadly lacking.

If you’re looking for a romp around 60s swinging London, with added violence and a twisted sense of morality then you’ve probably found something you’ll enjoy for a Saturday night at home with a take away. If you like deep characters and compelling story lines, then perhaps you’d be better sticking with a classic American gangster flick.

★★★☆☆