Mr. Nice Reviews
Based on his book, we are told the story of Mr. Nice; a.k.a. Howard Marks (Rhys Ifans). From his humble beginnings in a small town in Wales, on to Oxford University and then into the world of international drug smuggling. On the way he meets his wife, Judy (ChloŽ Sevigny) and is involved with an IRA arms dealer, Jim McCann (David Thewlis). He is recruited by MI6, lies in court but is eventually brought to justice. It's quite an enthralling tale but one I ultimately found was very unbalanced (more on that later).
I don't know whether it was deliberate or not, but I found the picture quality very poor. It may have been to make it look more like a period piece, but more likely it was the best the budget would allow. I thought Rhys Ifans did an excellent job, although he never seems to age all through the film! I loved the small part David Thewlis played; the mad-cap Irishman was just brilliant. As to the plot; well I found it far too sympathetic to Marks; not surprising since it was based on his book I hear you say. But I would have thought the filmmakers would have put a little balance in there; what effect did all the drugs he sold all over the world have? How many innocent lives were affected? All this seemed inconsequential and probably explains why, despite some excellent performances, the film didn't perform very well both at the box office and also critically. For me, whilst I enjoyed the performances, I found it a little too self-indulgent.
SteelMonster's verdict: RECOMMENDED (...Just)
My score: 5.8/10.
"Mr. Nice" gets off to a good start in firmly establishing its protagonist's psychological motivations for actions in his future life.(Whether he confirms to colonial stereotypes or confounds them is a matter for another debate.) Stylistically, the movie seeks to be of the time it is set, first in black and white and then with a healthy amount of rear projection with spotty references that occasionally set the time like Bloody Sunday before going into the future at supersonic speeds on the Concorde as the characters seemingly never age. After all of that, as presented here, Howard Marks does not seem that remarkable for a drug smuggler, making him little deserving of a biopic. And the movie errs by not fully developing the more gonzo elements of the story like the IRA/MI6 connections that involve an atypically unhinged David Thewlis.