Medak's biopic skirts Sweeney-style fair-cop-guv clichés for bolder terrain, in which the macabre beginnings of the identical angels - all chirpy cockney, poor-but-spotless nostalgia - are placed as much within womb, hearth and home as in the streets, clubs and fairground booths through which Ron and Reg came to criminal prominence between Elvis and early Beatles. If Philip Ridley's script charts most of the signposts - school, army, protection, murder - it seems keen to establish the female connection, be it through Reggie's tormented, finally destroyed wife (Hardie, magnificent), or the endless, loyal patience of the kray brood, presided over by mother (Whitelaw) and consumptive but awesome Aunt Rose (Fleetwood). Most surprising is the impressive showing of Gary and Martin Kemp (of Spandau Ballet) as the twins, despite fears that the 'youth cult' dimension might be too strong a factor in the concept; most riveting, a series of cameos including Bell (ultra-seedy as victim Jack McVitie), Berkoff (OTT as victim George Cornell), Jimmy Jewel as the tall-tale-telling grandad every young thug should have. Little about the Krays' position as social climbing roughnecks, and not in the Badlands league, but a lot better than one dared hope.
Cast and crew