Director: Zackary Adler
Starring: Simon Cotton, Kevin Leslie & Nicola Stapleton
Synopsis: Follows the early years of two unknown 18 year old amateur boxers who quickly fought their way to becoming the most feared and repected villains in London
Rating: 18 Run time: 110 minutes Release date: August 31 (DVD)
The Rise of the Krays is a low budget feature film portraying the early years of notorious London gangsters Ronnie & Reggie Kray. The film deals with their formative years and their rise through the ranks of London’s gangs, and does its best to show the audience how violent and menacing the two, particularly Ronnie, would be in their desire to become the leaders in London’s seedy underbelly.
Set during their rise to infamy, The Rise of the Krays starts off shortly after World War II when the twins were nothing more than a pair of street thugs looking to cause trouble through the most violent means necessary. With their actions soon landing thems on the wrong side of the law after Ronnie assaults a Police officer. It’s not long before the Krays start to make a name for themselves and are muscling in on the nightclub scene where they aim to make their money.
The Rise of the Krays had its DVD release shortly before Legend, starring Tom Hardy, reached cinemas and suffers from looking like a direct to DVD knock off that will be found on supermarket shelves alongside the likes of The Walking Deceased and Tooken. And in all honesty, this will be its rightful place. The Rise of the Krays is a very poor film indeed, and is not worthy of anyone’s time or hard earned money.
The story of the Krays has been told before and will likely be told again, but The Rise of the Krays adds little to nothing in the way of developing or re-imagining their onscreen status. The two leads; Simon Cotton (Ronnie Kray) and Kevin Leslie (Reggie Kray) are both without charisma and lack the steely glare needed to portray two of Britain’s most notorious gangsters. Leslie completely undercooks the part of Reggie, although it’s hardly his fault as he is given little to do as the less psychopathic of the two.
Cotton, on the other hand, decides to go the other way and is so over the top that his performance becomes laughable. According to Cotton, shouting is the only way to invoke any sort of menace into a performance, even when a scene does not call for it. It’s a bit like watching a teenager trying to impress a girl at school; playing the bad boy but not really meaning it, thus coming over as pretentious and false and becoming even more of a fool for it.
In fact, the whole film feels a bit on the foolish side. The script is badly written, while the performances never hit the mark and leave the audience feeling underwhelmed. What should be riveting storytelling, instead feels like a local village hall performance of well known story, instead of a tightly made independent British film.
Director Zackary Adler makes a mess of proceedings, and does not appear to know how to make a compelling film featuring such nefarious characters, and it seems like he has no distinct style to showcase whatever talents he may have. It must also be mentioned that it seems odd, if not downright lazy, to cast two actors who look nothing like each other. The Krays, as most will know, were identical twins, yet with Cotton and Leslie there is no resemblance whatsoever between the two.
Perhaps any likeness was overlooked in the hope that they would share a great connection onscreen. Or perhaps it was believed the pair would overcome this lack of foresight by the films creators. While such things may seem like nit-picking, it does throw the viewer right from the start. But, these are the least of the films worries, and merely show the tip of the iceberg in a film littered with problems from start to finish. The most depressing thing however, is that this is only the beginning and a sequel; The Fall of the Krays is due later in the year, meaning this dull procession of a film is far from over.
In summary: The Rise of the Krays is tiresome and embarrassing. Do yourself a favour and watch Legend instead.