REVIEW: The Krays (1990)

1990-the-krays-poster1The Krays follows the life of twin crime lords Ronald (Gary Kemp) and Reggie Kray (Martin Kemp), from childhood to the height of their power in 1960’s London.

The Krays can be a slow film since it chronicles Ronnie and Reggie’s life from childhood so while their antics as children is interesting, it takes a while for the film to get to the time where Ronnie and Reggie were London’s biggest gangsters. It’s this time that’s most interesting and gripping as they encounter other gangsters who were a part of The Krays Firm like Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie (Tom Bell) and or from rival gangs like George Cornell (Steven Berkoff). 

The Krays is a biopic that focuses not just on the twins but also on their family, especially the twin’s mother Violet Kray (Billie Whitelaw). Violet is a strong woman who had to raise three boys during the Second World War and doesn’t take any nonsense. Sometimes it’s unclear if she really understands what her sons have grown up to be like, she enjoys the riches it brings but whether or not she truly realises how violent her sons can be could be debated. Violet is the what helps keep Ronnie and Reggie together. Violet isn’t the only strong woman in the Krays life, they have an aunt and the other women on the street that they grew up on looked out for them too – the start of The Krays really shows women’s can do attitude during WWII.

The Kemp brothers (perhaps naturally) work well together as the Kray twins. They have great chemistry and each fill their roles, Gary as the more unhinged Ronnie and Martin as the charming but dangerous Reggie, very well and both are great to watch.

Frances (Kate Hardie) is the love of Reggie’s life but he’s so controlling, choosing what she can wear and who she can talk to that it’s all too much for her. Frances is timid and absent-minded and her nervousness puts the audience on edge as Reggie’s aggression gets further out of control.

When Ronnie flips out, not only is Gary Kemp’s performance great but it’s the score by Michael Kamen that adds to the violence on screen and sets your nerves on edge. It’s an eerie score that builds as Ronnie’s anger builds so you’re on a knife edge, waiting for him to strike out.

With Legend being released later this week, The Krays is worth watching because even though it may be a bit slow at times, the creepy score and great performances make it gripping and fascinating. 4/5.

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