DVD Movie Review | The Krays: Kill Order (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Freda Cooper 13.09.2015

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The Krays: Kill Order (UK Rating: 15)

After two dramatic outings on the big screen, most recently with Tom Hardy playing both Ronnie and Reggie in Legend, the story of the notorious Kray twins is back on the screen for the third, and final, time this week in The Krays: Kill Order, released on Monday, 14 September. This, however, is a documentary, a companion piece that sets out to provide something closer to the real story but, as Lights, Camera, Action! discovers, the dividing lines between fact and opinion are decidedly fuzzy.
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That's not a criticism, more of a fact because it's almost impossible to get to the bottom of some of the events that took place during the 1960s when the East End of London was under the mutual thumbs of the Krays. The film is fronted by author Bernard O'Mahoney, who doesn't hold back on his own views. It's also filled with talking heads who all have their own - often opposing - memories of events, so deciding who to believe and why is left very much to the audience.

Everything is made more difficult by the number of people interviewed during the course of the film. Credit to the makers for doing their research, but it's sometimes easy to lose track of who's who and how they fit into the story, especially as the name captions aren't repeated later on. Most of them are elderly men, many in their best bib and tucker, and it's hard to believe what some of them got up to in their earlier lives - until they open their mouths, that is. They bring authenticity and credibility, but are also indulged in one of the privileges of age, telling long and rambling stories full of tiny details. Some sharper editing would not have gone amiss.

There are also some tasty little morsels tucked in there, as well. Phone calls with Reggie Kray himself, one of which involves the arrangements for his security at Ronnie's funeral; an almost Monroe-esque theory about the death about Reggie's wife, Frances; and the recollections of family friend, Maureen Flanagan, of Violet Kray's reactions during the trial of the twins, and their older brother, Charlie. Flanagan was the mother's hairdresser, styling her hair at home every week because if she went to a salon, she was constantly approached by people wanting Ron or Reg to sort out a dispute. "Poor woman."

Tracing the story in more or less chronological order, the film finishes with Reggie's death, accompanied by O'Mahoney's memories of meeting both twins in his teens, and his own opinions. He's not a natural in front of the camera but, like all the other talking heads, he's there to provide authenticity and knowledge. By this stage, the film has trawled through a detailed list of brutal murders and there's very little of the apparent glamour that the twins enjoyed in their heyday, and that was so prevalent in Legend. The only recollection comes, again, from Maureen Flanagan, who relates a visit to an Italian-suited Ronnie in Broadmoor.

Rated 5 out of 10


The Krays: Kill Order makes a useful reference point for the other two fictional accounts currently in cinemas, and that's essentially what it's there for. However, as a documentary, it's routine in its treatment of its subject and has a tendency to ramble. What makes it interesting is the blurring of lines between fact and opinion: they are so fuzzy that it's difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins.

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