One of the more exciting-sounding entries at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival is the thriller Legacy. It stars Idris Elba (“Stringer Bell” from The Wire) as Malcolm Gray, a special ops soldier who returns home to Brooklyn after a failed mission in which he was brutally tortured.
Watching this teaser really piqued my interest:
The psychological aspects of it—claustrophobia, tinged with paranoia—is evocative of The Conversation, as well as the equally brilliant (and overlooked) Spartan. Both of those films were about the labyrinthine world of working in the shadows as instruments of powerful (and often violent) forces. Naturally, these themes can easily be ported to films like Legacy, whose modest budget lets the story take shape around a protagonist’s inner struggle, rather than action set pieces.
A recent, positive review of the film seems to support this idea.
Malcolm watches the political theatre unfold on TV from his dilapidated Brooklyn hotel room, the effects of the grueling torture he endured causing grave anxiety and paranoia. He becomes convinced his unit was set up and that somehow it’s all connected to his brother’s surging political power. But how much of this conspiracy is the product of his rapidly decaying mental health, or is his own brother really at the head of some nefarious cabal?
As Spartan‘s Bobby Scott says, “It’s all in the mind, sergeant. That’s where the battle is won.”
The film’s fantastic Hitchcockian poster reinforces the notion that much of the film is about dark corners of the mind in which secrets are kept. And the film’s title alludes to a troubled past and regrets. I hope that Legacy explores this further, drawing the audience deeper into Malcolm’s moral and psychological agony, perhaps even feel his madness.