Mr. Nice Reviews
"Most Wanted. Most Wasted."
Mr. Nice is a movie I thoroughly enjoyed, and more than anything, it really made me want to read Howard Marks' book. There's a few annoyances throughout and from what I've read, it isn't nearly as good as the book. On a subjective level though, I really loved it. This is material that is worth showing. It's fun to watch, it's insightful(probably not as much as the book I would imagine), but more than anything I loved Rhys Ifans and Chloe Savigny.†
Mr. Nice is the life story of Howard Marks. Marks learned about marijuana from a guy while attending and graduating from Oxford. After graduating, he takes a teaching position that isn't getting him much money. So when that guy who introduced him to the magical plant gets busted, he turns the business over to Marks. Marks takes over and the business flourishes. The title, Mr. Nice, is based on one of Marks' aliases and I would be led to believe it is why there's a popular and powerful strain of marijuana called just that, Mr. Nice.†
A lot of the criticism for the film seems to be from those who have read the book and I can't really deny that the film is a bad adaption because I haven't read the book. I will now, but as of seeing the movie, I haven't. So luckily I watched this before because based on those opinions, I wouldn't have cared for it nearly as much.
If you're at all interested in drug smuggling or maybe just the man himself, give this film a look. I loved the style, loved the dialogue, loved the cast, and loved the source material. Howard Marks was an extraordinary man and his life makes for an extraordinary story.†
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.