THE RISE OF THE KRAYS (2015)
Directed by Zackary Adler
Based on the real life Kray twins, Reggie and Ronnie, THE RISE OF THE KRAYS follows the rise of the notorious brothers from young men getting into fights to acquiring their own club, ruling the East End and eventually beginning to take over the West End of London. Whilst both brothers seem to thrive on violent scuffles, it’s Ron who seems to actively go looking for trouble, taking the violence to the edge and spilling over it.
After beating up bully boys bothering the customers of a snooker club, the Krays, aided by their friend Dickie, take over the running of the club. However, a local gang running a protection racket in the area are looking to receive their 10 pounds a week for ensuring the venue doesn’t come to any trouble. Little do they realise that the Kray twins can handle any trouble coming their way and Ron certainly doesn’t look too fondly on gangs trying to extort money from him. It isn’t long before word gets round about the twins and other gangs foolishly think they can take the brothers down. Dealing with these threats soon puts the twins at the top of the ladder and not content with running the clubs of East End London, they seek to venture into the West End. For Ronnie, however, his acts of violence against other gangsters sees him in court and sent to a mental institute after being diagonosed with schizophrenia. With Ronnie away, Reg looks to work with the other gangs so they each have a slice of the pie of the gambling trade with the hope to turn legit in the future, not only for himself but so he can be a good husband to his future wife. When Ron is let ouf of prison, he doesn’t take too kindly to Reg’s girlfriend meddling nor Reg’s plans to turn legit and seeks to destroy what the brothers have created by once again looking for trouble and stepping over the line.
In his first feature length film role, Simon Cotton intimidates as loose canon Ronnie Kray, a man who thrives off violence and isn’t afraid to knock out his enemy, be it a copper or a fellow criminal. His tactics make him dangerous to be around and even though quieter brother Reggie (Kevin Leslie) likes to lay the smackdown on anyone who crosses their path, he too can see Ron is taking it too far at the wrong time. However, blood is thicker than water, especially in the case of the Krays.
Though it has been produced for a fraction of the price of Brian Helgeland’s upcoming Kray flick LEGEND, starring Tom Hardy in the role of both twins, THE RISE OF THE KRAYS is an impressive effort depicting the rise of the twins on the London scene and how they rose to become Britain’s most famous gangsters from their early career as professional boxers. A great deal of effort has gone into the movie in terms of wardrobe and set design and convinces in its portrayal of the 50’s. Screenplay wise, I would have liked to have seen the personalities of the twins developed more as they felt a little caricaturish at times. Reggie plays second fiddle to Ronnie in the movie and it would have been nice to discover more about the character and his persona instead of merely focusing on the violence and criminal aspects. However, as a whole the film is quite an engaging watch with some brutal scenes that will surely make you cringe.
Both Kevin Leslie and Simon Cotton will be reprising their roles in sequel The Fall of the Krays.