The film has the same on-stage opening and closing scenes as seen in Mat Whitecross’s recent biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll those here in Mr. Nice the device is not as impactful as we do not go back to these types of scenes during the film and they felt out of place in this film completely.
Following the rise of Howard Marks (played here by a marvelously bewigged Rhys Ifans) through education and being introduced to drugs when he was studying at Oxford University, we see how Marks teams up with unusual characters involved in the drugs trade and how he managed to become one of the most well known people within the profession, and how he found tabloid infamy in the eighties.
Although the main character is interesting to watch, especially when he is teamed up with the wacky Irishman Jim McCann (David Thewlis), the story of the film is quite long and I found myself bored halfway through. This is mainly due to the fact that the film feels like it was based on a lot of disparate events unrelated until the last few scenes of the film.
The director of the film has chosen some very interesting technical ideas to reconstruct the period setting of the film is based on, a great example is the busy cities scenes which are created using green screen and placing archive footage in the background. They also use different cameras to film some of the scenes and this really does help to recreate the feel of the decades that the different parts of the story focuses on, which is a beautiful and simple way of helping to give the film these different feelings of the individual decades.
The way that they also frame the film with these different cameras as well gives the film the impression that it is paying homage to British films from the sixties and seventies, which manages to work really well and is something that I must give credit for the director.
While I enjoyed the technical aspects of the film, I wasn’t drawn to the story, it felt laboured at times and disconnected which is a shame. The performances from both Rhys Ifans and David Thewlis were top quality and help to make the film very watchable, with Ifans once again playing a very laidback character and Thewlis doing some of the funniest acting that I have seen this year.