Mr. Nice - Blu-ray Review

'at over two hours there's far too much uninteresting, recycled material from stories we've already heard to keep this in any way involving'

Mr. Nice is a drug-fuelled biopic presented with about the same originality levels as the latest Transformers film. Read through a checklist of things you expect to see. They're all here. Smoke-hazed parties with semi-naked-to-fully-naked women? Check. Danger-filled border crossings? Check. An inflated sense of self worth and a growing feeling that the main character (Rhys Ifans) is too untouchable to be untouchable? Check, check. Inevitable downfall and potential loss of family/drugs/self-worth? Check. Possible signs of redemption? Optional.

The one unexpected element in the life of Howard Marks (Ifans) is his proximity to both the IRA and the British secret service, with elements from each represented by David Thewlis and Christian McKay respectively but really, even this isn't a wholly new element in the sordid tale of a fallen drug lord. That all this takes place in the Sixties and Seventies, with the clothes and lifestyles that most people would probably add to the checklist above, doesn't help matters and at over two hours there's far too much uninteresting, recycled material from stories we've already heard to keep this in any way involving.

The one saving grace is the individual performances which are near-universally very good, if not excellent. Thewlis threatens to break out into grotesque parody on occasion (and one scene near the end is notably misjudged considering the tone of the rest of the film) but for the most part he's engaging, unpredictable and a welcome diversion from Ifans, who sleepwalks through the part of Marks with little effort. Not that that should really be held against him. Marks is complex and Ifans plays him as such although there is the nagging feeling come the end that he (and therefore, we) never really got under his skin. McKay, who will probably forever struggle to throw off the memory of his awesome Welles impersonation in Me And Orson Welles, is magnificent and Chloƫ Sevigny, who appears to continue to steadfastly avoid typecasting, is charming and dynamic as a drug-groupie cum loving mother.

Solid turns though aren't enough by themselves to save writer/director Bernard Rose who, on more than one occasion, seems to have run out of ideas. In the build up to the film's release, Ifans talked about the battle to get the project started and how he had been backing Mr. Nice for a number of years. Sadly, rather than leading to a percolation of ideas, the film instead seems to have stagnated and the interest here is ultimately only for those with some sort of attachment to the Marks mythos.

Look further...

'happy to tell the story of Marks without asking or attempting to answer any questions about his chosen lifestyle' - Fandango Groovers, 3/5

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