vastly intelligent and utterly compelling biopic of Britain's most famous gangsters. When they weren't running shady protection rackets or inflicting horrific, gangland punishment on rival mobsters, the twin brothers contrarily made life generally safe for East Enders.
Writer Phillips Ridley and director Peter Medak shrewdly focus on the brothers complex personalities, showing their devotion as brothers to one another, their fierce loyalty to their mother and the rest of their family and their manically controlling and possessive hold over their lovers.
The film begins during World War 2 showing how the young Krays adapted to life in the East End during the war and some of the unscrupulous characters they met along the way as children which inevitably had some sort of psychological influence on them when they grew up.
The film chronicles their rise as rulers of the underworld and complimenting the rich, fine dialogue are the films two leading actors - a fantastic turn from ex- Spandau ballet members and real-life brothers, Martin and Gary kemp. Both put in concentrated, naturalistic and convincing performances.
Billie Whitelaw shines as their mother (who went on to win an oscar for her performance as Best Supporting Actress). Never once does she shrink to stereotype which is always so easy the case in roles such as these.
The film evokes a tense atmosphere throughout, building on suspense as the Krays steadily build their empire with a string of nightclubs and their protection rackets.
Some of the violent occurences in the film are stomach churning such as where one of the Krays sticks a sword directly through a rival mobsters palm whilst the bloody climax is played out to perfection.
Supporting performances from the likes of Tom Bell as Jack "the hat" Mcvitie, Susan Fleetwood as Charlotte Cornwell May and Kate Hardie as Frances are all equally superb and effective, each biting into their roles with seemingly a vengenace and making the most of every scene they're in.
A must see film that is gripping from beginning through to the bitter end