review for The Krays on AllMovie

The Krays (1990)
by Mike Cummings review

Peter Medak's 1990 film gives viewers two villains for the price of one: the twisted twin brothers Ronald and Reginald Kray, Britain's kings of crime in the 1960s. Not only did they look and dress alike, they also killed alike, and are portrayed here with spooky synergy by brothers Gary and Martin Kemp, members of the '80s rock group Spandau Ballet. Performing before a camera was not new to the Kemps, as both had studied acting as children and appeared in several BBC productions. They apparently learned their craft well, for it is their extraordinary acting that makes The Krays worthwhile. Like the Krays, the Kemps grew up in a lower-class London neighborhood and reportedly tended to think and act alike in their early life. They exhibit icy ruthlessness in their roles as kooky mama's boys with enough smarts and criminal derring-do to rise to celebrity status in protection and gambling rackets, even rubbing elbows with legends of the entertainment world. Billie Whitelaw is superb as the boys' mother, who had much to do with shaping her twin tots into twin terrors. Although Philip Ridley's script has been criticized for focusing too much on uneventful moments in the Krays' childhood, its biographical accuracy remains uncontested.