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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Low Budget but Fantastic viewing
I had high hopes for this film, i had always hoped they would make a movie from the book i enjoyed so much when i was younger.

From the start you knew this was not going to be a high-budget Hollywood film and that worried me, slightly. Especially as the first 5 mins seemed a bit 'arty' like Bronson was. Panic set in.

Those 5 mins soon vanished and it...
Published on 8 Feb. 2011 by Darren Lawrence

versus
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A solid biopic, but nothing amazing
Mr Nice is a biopic of the life of convicted-drug smuggler Howard Marks (played by Rhys Ifans - Notting Hill). The film chronicles his origins, education, love-life and, most importantly, how he fell into the life of an importer of illicit substances.

Rhys Ifans was practically born to play this role, the height, the accent and mannerisms are all spot on to...
Published on 28 Feb. 2011 by J. Morris


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A solid biopic, but nothing amazing, 28 Feb. 2011
By 
J. Morris "Josh" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mr Nice [DVD] (DVD)
Mr Nice is a biopic of the life of convicted-drug smuggler Howard Marks (played by Rhys Ifans - Notting Hill). The film chronicles his origins, education, love-life and, most importantly, how he fell into the life of an importer of illicit substances.

Rhys Ifans was practically born to play this role, the height, the accent and mannerisms are all spot on to Howard Marks (a welshman himself) and many times behind the dark glasses and long hair it's difficult to tell the actor from the man. The story is well directed, giving us enough of Marks' back story to understand his mindset and the choices he makes without getting bogged down in the minute detail. This is a truly picturesque cinematic experience, as we see Howard travel from his hometown in Wales, to his College in Oxford and as far around the world as Afghanistan to source his merchandise. When this is thrown in with IRA contacts and MI6 agents it makes for one extremely interesting tale that, regardless of your stance on drugs, you will end up willing Howard to come up smiling. ChloŽ Sevigny (Barry Munday) deserves a special mention for her brilliant rendition of Mark's wife and David Thewliss plays the quasi-insane IRA contact Jim McCann with great flair.

Where this film loses a star is making Rhys Ifans play Howard Marks at 17-21 which just looked ridiculous as Rhys Ifans really cannot get away with playing a character that young. What also lets the film down is the awful CGI of 1970's London that Ifans has been superimposed over. Even the grainy 'stock-footage' filter they lay over the top can't disguise how bad the CGI is and this is extremely obvious on Blu-Ray. Still, the desert scenes in Afghanistan are well shot and stunningly crisp so this isn't a problem that persists through the film.

There is a director's commentary and a couple of interviews with the Cast but it's really nothing special.

A really interesting biography of a man that has lived a very interesting - if illegal - life. Certainly one to make you think, recommended!!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Low Budget but Fantastic viewing, 8 Feb. 2011
By 
This review is from: Mr Nice [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I had high hopes for this film, i had always hoped they would make a movie from the book i enjoyed so much when i was younger.

From the start you knew this was not going to be a high-budget Hollywood film and that worried me, slightly. Especially as the first 5 mins seemed a bit 'arty' like Bronson was. Panic set in.

Those 5 mins soon vanished and it turned into a fantastic film. D

irection was great, the old footage with a Rhys Ifans superimposed over worked well, and although a bit OTT in parts was a great 120 mins.

I would recommend to all film lovers.

Over and out.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ifans gives a gripping central performance..., 12 Dec. 2011
By 
S. EXETER "Online-Inquirer" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mr Nice [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
The rights to make a film of Mr. Nice were sold to the BBC by Howard Marks when the landmark autobiography of perhaps the most sophisticated drug baron of all time topped the best seller lists in 1996. 15 years later and his vivid memoir has finally been brought to the big screen by the iconic writer/director Bernard Rose (Immortal Beloved) who faithfully captures the rambling, often comic, nature of the original book aided by an outstanding performance from Rhys Ifans in the title role.

In researching this article I have found many prominent discrepancies between the reported facts, their fictionalised account in the original Marks book and the way in which they are presented by Rose in his screenplay. This opaque concept of reality has helped to give "Mr. Nice" his legendary outlaw status with comparisons drawn to Robin Hood and Butch Cassidy to name but two. Whilst this lack of absolute veracity might irritate some, to my mind it only serves to heighten the movie as a work of art in its own right.

In trying to echo the essence of an autobiography Bernard Rose elected to take on most of the important technical roles behind the camera, not content with writing the script and directing the performances, he is also the cinematographer (operating a handheld 35mm camera to capture the requisite period look) as well as being the film's editor. This singular vision provides a necessary counterpoint to the force of nature that is Rhys Ifans who dominates almost every scene in the movie.

Ifans actually got to know Marks back in the day when he was singing with the fledgling Welsh psychedelic rock combo Super Furry Animals, prior to the huge success of the book the two became firm friends and a deal was struck that Rhys should play Howard if a film was ever made of his life. This long standing amicable association provides the movie with a heart that would have most likely been missing with anyone else in the lead role, Ifans admiration for Marks is demonstrable as is his compassion, particularly in the Terre Haute Penitentiary scenes.

The film opens from behind theatrical curtains with Howard Marks addressing a favourable crowd during one of his live shows, after the book's success he became a popular speaker on the raconteur circuit. It then flashes back to his early life in a small Welsh coal-mining village near Bridgend, the black and white film stock shrinks to a 4:3 ratio giving the feeling of a kitchen sink drama of the period, the young Howard is also played by Rhys Ifans; a surreal device recollecting the televised plays of Dennis Potter.

Marks was the first of his family to attend university after earning a scholarship to study at Balliol College, Oxford, in the mid-1960s. Like many of his generation during his undergraduate years he was exposed to a variety of recreational drugs including LSD but his drug of choice was cannabis, in particular hashish; as he takes his first toke the scope of the picture widens and dramatically shifts from monochrome to vivid colour, reminiscent of Dorothy's entrance into Oz.

After Howard graduates from Oxford with a degree in Nuclear Physics, he heads back to Wales, gets married and starts a family, this is the version of events unique to Rose's film as this is not how Marks recalls it in his book nor is it true to documented accounts but it makes perfect dramatic sense. He takes a steady teaching job to make ends meet and for a while leads a sober yet boring existence, until he attends a party thrown by his old college chum Graham (Jack Huston) who seems to be doing incredibly well for himself by selling hash. Howard is readily seduced back into the hippy culture when he meets and shares a joint with Judy (Chloe Sevigny), embarking on a long love affair with her and the weed.

When Graham is arrested while attempting to smuggle a large haul out of Germany, Howard agrees to courier the remaining stash back to the UK where he is quickly baptised into the machinations of big time drug dealing; turning a quick profit and agreeing to collect further shipments from the Pakistani supplier, Saleem Malik (Omid Djalili). This whirlwind period in Howard's life brings him into contact with the colourful character of Jim McCann, the Irish freedom fighter allegedly kicked out of the IRA for drug trafficking played full tilt by David Thewlis. Marks engages McCann's Provo contacts at Shannon Airport to covertly import drugs from the European mainland.

In a surreal twist straight out of the pages of Ian Fleming or John le Carre, Howard is approached by another old chum from Baillol, Hamilton "Mac" McMillan, played by the wonderful Christian McKay (Me and Orson Welles), who now works for MI6 and wishes to recruit Marks as his eyes and ears in various cases relating to narcotics or terrorism in return for a level of protection from the law.

Between the late 70s and early 80s Howard Marks amassed a complex network of connections controlling at one point 10% of the global hashish market and by the mid-80s he had 43 aliases, 89 phone lines, and 25 companies trading throughout the world. True to the book the film tries to suggest that his fateful decision to move into the American market was his ultimate undoing and that Judy, who by this time he had 3 childen with, tried to discourage the US expansion and pull Howard back to reality and the commitment of family life but the temptation to make even greater piles of cash proved too much.

Bernard Rose employs a clever stylistic device to convey the 25 year time period covered in the course of movie, he takes actual filmed stock footage backgrounds and then digitally superimposes Marks over the top matching the grain, whilst the effect is an obvious artifice dismissed by some critics as simply amateurish and cheap it actually serves as a striking visual quirk that reflects Howard's constant state of expanded consciousness. It also reminds me of the back projection shots favoured by Alfred Hitchcock in his golden Hollywood period, notably Marnie in 1964.

The original soundtrack by minimalist composer Philip Glass amounts to nothing more than incidental mood music echoing the sort of thing he did for the Errol Morris documentaries of the 80s starting with The Thin Blue Line, nonetheless it does help to bring about a sense of cohesion to the piece. For this level of attentive detail Rose should be commended, he has managed to make a visually unique movie and a wonderful star vehicle for Rhys Ifans out of a stoned shaggy dog story that will help maintain Howard Marks' mythic stature as he continues his vigorous campaign for the legalisation of recreational drugs.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Gently enjoyable romp through the life of an unusual character, 30 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Mr Nice [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Mr Nice is dominated by a terrific performance by Rhys Ifans, nailing Howard Marks' laid back Welsh drawl and slightly bemused attitude throughout the film. He's constantly convincing but never a charicature. While the film is never the aisle-rolling romp of insanity promised by the trailer, it is an enlightening and curious tale of how a clever boy from a small town stumbled into big-time marijuana dealing and decided 'what's the harm?'. His relationships are interesting, and the whole thing is filmed with a playful sense of unreality - extending to the deliberately poor occasional back-projection used as a brief nudge-nudge gimmic in some foreign locations. Luckily the filmakers don't overdo it and most of the film is excellently shot. This is most spectacularly evidenced by crystal clear filming that makes Marks' Kabul visit astoundingly picturesque.
The character's fun and charming, and we're given little glimpses into his head here and there that enliven the movie. Most of the 'rise to power, fall from grace' cliches arise, but they're done in a gentler and more charming manner than normal, not with the vulgar brashness of its American equivalents, and Marks' never seems to stop valuing his long-term girlfriend and family.
As it staggers from Ireland to the middle east and the USA, the film throws some challenging events and unusual characters our way, and it's always interesting - just not the 'Mind Blowing Trip' of the typically hyperbole laden cover.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine tribute to an incredible man life., 29 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Mr Nice [DVD] (DVD)
Howard Marks is a legend amongst fraudsters and narcotics dealers alike. This film perfectly captures the maverick business man and his outrageous life. It opens in monochrome turning to colour when Howard smokes his first spliff as an undergraduate. Howard Marks is played by Rhys Ifans , who plays Marks as a charming, raffish boyo from the Welsh valleys. The film is a lighthearted, amoral comedy thriller.
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4.0 out of 5 stars MIGHT DRAG FOR SOME, 10 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Mr Nice [DVD] (DVD)
Not really a subject matter that i care too much about,but gave the film a go and enjoyed it.
I didn't expect to like any of the charcters in this movie,but found Howard to be an okay guy,just not exactly living a legal lifestyle.
This did drag a little at the first half for me,but i am very glad i stuck with it,top acting and an interesting view on the whole subject.
I fully understand this film will bore a lot of people,it does drag a little and there are some characters that aren't ...nice.
It did interest me to see this guy's story,hear his views,find out what became what,how he turned into the guy he did.
I would say people with,let's say more of an interest in ths subject matter,would find this very good indeed.
Come the end,i can honestly say i'm glad i watched it and probably will again.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling indie movie, 22 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Mr Nice [DVD] (DVD)
I'll try to keep this review as short as possible.

I had read MR Nice the book, and when I saw this had a (limited) cinema run, I jumped at the chance to watch it.

Overral I thought the film was great. Many reviews have said that the film had "bad special effects" etc. This was an independent film on a low budget. It's not Die Hard. The story was well told, if not slightly compressed, as is mostly the case when transitioning book to film. Rhys ifans played his part very well and was clearly familiar with the character. I found the film both compelling and hilarious, but at times very dark and grim.

I very much enjoyed this film, and the only reason I have four stars is because the film wasn't long enough!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great, 7 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Mr Nice [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
When i finished reading mr nice many years ago i was wandering when they would make the movie of it,then when i read senor nice i found out Rhys was going to be playing the role, then when i saw the trailer i became overly excited for the movie, and then i waited...and waited...and waited over a year and a half for them to release the full movie, i even saw it at the cinema which is rare for me.

The movie starts well with a brief recap of howards early life, getting into university, his first experience of marijuana, then they progress very quickly on to his career as a hashish smuggler.

The movie does miss out alot of his experiences, that would have made a great directors cut, but the blu ray only has 2 deleted scenes, but i understand that they cant fit the entire life of a man in a 2 hour movie, so i wont complain,

The movie is very entertaining and worth a watch to anyone who has or hasnt read the book, its a great tribute to a national hero,
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite Mundane And Poorly Filmed, 22 Mar. 2011
By 
N Thompson (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mr Nice [DVD] (DVD)
Having seen various articles featuring Howard Marks I was quite intrigued to learn more about him - not enough to invest the time to read his biography, but certainly enough to sit through a 2 hour film.

Unfortunately, I didn't feel that I came away from the experience any the wiser. Here we have a typical pot smoker from the sixties, a slightly nerdy student type, who becomes a major drug dealer overnight. Its hard to accept that he has enough contacts to instantly become such a huge success. Then its just drug taking and dealing without any worthwhile insight, no character study, and certainly a complete lack of drama. You could literally be watching the activity of any drug dealer here, this one just happens to be doing it on a truly massive scale.

The film is poorly filmed too. Firstly the same actor has been used throughout to portray the main character. Now whilst Rhys Ifans is a fine actor and does a splendid job of portraying Howard Marks in more recent times, using him in the earlier scenes of Howard as a 16 year old is just ludicrous and is totally unbelievable. The sixties settings uses archive footage with fake backgrounds all too obvious, giving the film an amateur low budget feel. Finally the sound quality is appalling. Cranking the sound up to decipher conversations, you then wrestle with the remote every time other sound effects come into play - car horns, bar scenes etc.

So all in all not that interesting, and not that well filmed either.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great fun, 8 Aug. 2012
By 
Alun Buffry "premie" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mr Nice [DVD] (DVD)
an insight into the ups and downs of being a cannabis smuggler in the 1970's and 80's - so sad Howard Marks was kidnapped and locked up in the US for so long - begs the question - did he actually harm anyone through cannabis?

I knew the late original Mr Nice in Norwich - nothing at all like Howard!
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Mr Nice [DVD]
Mr Nice [DVD] by Rhys Ifans (DVD - 2011)
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