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Mr. Nice

One wishes it were meaner and leaner.

Rod Lott October 11th, 2011

"Mr. Nice" is a little too true to its title. Had the film had more balls, it might have made a stronger impression. Based upon the real-life exploits of Howard Marks, writer/director Bernard Rose tracks the smart Welsh lad's sharp-angled trajectory from bullied sissy boy to major worldwide player in the drug-smuggling trade.


Here, the switch from mere Oxford student to corrupt bad boy is flipped with one look at the stunner Elsa Pataky ("Fast Five") and a taste of cannabis. From there, the path of Marks (Rhys Ifans, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1") is marked with marriage, divorce, the IRA, MI-6, LSD, hashish, arrests, another marriage (Chlöe Sevigny, TV's "Big Love"), conjugal visits, kids, wine, disease, sex while Nancy Reagan lectures about just saying no on the telly, etc.

Although benefiting from a typically strong score by Philip Glass (who previously teamed with Rose on "Candyman") and a performance to match by Ifans, the story of "Mr. Nice" simply lacks the seductive allure required for audience immersion like the best of true-crime films — namely, Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas."

Plus — and I say this while noting Rose has been and remains a gifted director — I feel like I've seen this thing before, and done better. This past year alone, "Kill the Irishman" and "Mesrine" proved electrifying biopics of notable ne'er-do-wells without passing the two-hour mark; "Mr. Nice" just looks weak by comparison. —Rod Lott

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