Many sequels are rather unnecessary, but when the job is only half-done those involved are left with little choice. If it weren’t for the fact that The Rise of the Krays only told part of the story, it’s arguable as to whether The Fall of the Krays would have seen the light of day.
With the event of Legend in 2015, The Rise (we’ll shorten the titles from now on) fell under the radar somewhat. It’s probably due to this that it didn’t receive all of the plaudits it deserved. The Fall, however, faced no such obstacles upon its release at the beginning of last year, so the several things that let it down a little are magnified. The storyline just doesn’t seem to flow at times, while the direction is somewhat haphazard towards the end. It’s almost as if the budget was considered so low that those in charge decided the cash was running out and were in a hurry to get the final few scenes in the can.
And with Kevin Leslie as Reggie Kray having the bulk of the screen time in this second outing, he had to live up to Simon Cotton‘s standout performance as Ronnie in the first. Leslie never really convinced in the original, but that didn’t matter so much when he was playing second fiddle. Here, he is unable to switch from hardened gangster to tortured soul in the same smooth manner as Cotton does. The latter, meanwhile, seamlessly picks up from where he left off in the first film and is the real heart and soul of the piece, which means it was well worth sitting through the short time it took him to find himself in The Rise.
If The Rise was was more of a hark back to 1990’s The Krays, then The Fall is almost a full-blown homage, bordering on a pastiche – and not because of the near identical running times. But because the Kemp Brothers‘ vehicle three decades earlier devoted its 1 hour-50 minutes to an entire life story, it wasn’t required to go into that much detail. The Fall isn’t anywhere near as entertaining as its predecessor, but then again it was probably never intended to be, either. Where it does fall down is that it fails to delve deep into the emotional psyche of Reggie and his struggle to keep both his marriage and his underground credentials intact. As a consequence, it fails to truly convey how the twins’ murderous empire unravelled.
A hallmark of The Rise was that it never held back on graphic violence. Although it was obviously low-budget, it always looked realistic, which was a real tribute to the filmmakers. There is less of this in The Fall, so it is unable to fall back onto this. Instead, it tries to run deep but nearly always struggles to keep afloat. A worthy, but much less charismatic half of the duo.
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