“Are any plainclothes policemen in the audience?” – so begins the film story about one of the most known Welsh drug smugglers – Howard Marks.
The life of this controversial persona held the lives of a nerd, crazy adventurer, loving father, and cannabis advocate. He managed to go through all ups and downs of the drugs world, had a family and became well-known through its best-selling autobiography, MR NICE, now translated into ten languages. The story was amazing and unbelievable and soon was followed by the biopic directed by Bernard Rose.
The very first frames in the movie are black and white just as the life of the young Howard (Rhys Ifans): the smartest student in the class, shy and unsporting teenager from a small town. Everything changes as he meets new friends in Oxford and gets his first joint. Just one puff and the world gets its colours. With the second puff, we dive deep into the madness of the Swinging sixties: sex, hippies and marijuana. As he mentions at the very beginning – there was no intention to become a drug dealer. He just wanted to try it all – from common feelings to highly tuned senses, feel ganja and be ganja.
However, the “high” world wasn’t always pleasant, and he tried to get back to normal life, become a teacher and live just like everyone else. Only by chance, he became a smuggler – a friend gave Marks a job transporting hashish in Frankfurt. And there was a catch – Howard felt an alluring feeling of “high”. What else can titillate and excite more than smuggling stuff that costs thousands of pounds across the border?
In no time Howard learnt that selling Nordle, a code word for “hashish, and other stuff was a chance to make big money. Gifted with charm, sharp mind and imagination, he turned into a rock-start of the drugs world. As long as his activities rose high, he managed to closely contact MI6 agent, an irascible Irish Republican Army leader (David Thewlis), notorious drug dealers, DEA agents and even Yakuza. The building of a drug empire paralleled with a love affair with Judy (ChloÃ« Sevigny) and endless attempts to become a well-mannered man and care about his children. He even stole the identity of another man and became Mr Nice, but the desire for adventures was much stronger. Looking at the brilliant Rhys Ifans, suffering in jail and hearing a baby cry, tears your heart, but you know that he would hardly give up his cannabis dream.
An exceptional feature of this film is music, mostly Deep Purple and John Lennon. “God is a concept by which we measure our pain” seduces Mr Nice to dive deeper into the business and “If you’re drowning, you don’t clutch no straw” welcomes sweet marijuana oblivion. Cheerful Irish tunes that follow the getaway make you feel that the guys were not so bad.
The story ends happily just as in real life of Howard Marks and leaves you with different thoughts. Was Mr Nice a good man? Well, a man of many faces knew how to adjust to the changing circumstances and stay safe. Let alone surviving and even getting recognition in a rough Federal Correctional Complex, Terre Haute, Indiana. The story of his life sounds inspiring, shows willpower and abilities to pursue goals. Just as his character said in the movie – “Never show fear”. The man did have the guts, huh?
On the other hand, even though he wasn’t a violent man, Marks made his fortune in cannabis and stuff that was illegal. He fed money into organised criminal networks and became a “true modern-day folk hero”. Probably, that is not something that should be praised or called “nice.”
However, Rose, the film director, wasn’t unscrupulous or judgmental in the movie. He has pictured the life of a man with his strengths and weaknesses, common problems and unusual decisions. You are free to feel inspired by this story or throw your favourite joint right away.
Mr Nice died on 10 April 2016. He never knew that in 2017, The Howard Marks Foundation would agree on terms with Equinox International, and create a “Mr NICE” brand, that marks the life of Howard Marks. Now the company is one of the British leaders in the worldwide cannabis industry. Mr NICE brand offers globally sourced strains of legal and high-quality cannabis products, following research in partnership with Equinox. The wide range of CBD products includes premium CBD oils and flowers, organically and sustainably farmed, and free from harmful additives. All the products contain a small yet powerful compound called cannabidiol. It is as multi-faceted as the life of Mr Nice – if you use it well, you will be well. The compound has many therapeutic advantages and is widely studied. Headache, caused by thoughts “What would I do in his place?”, or heart issues after life-threatening adventures? You know what might help. Moreover, the brand offers stylish streetwear and accessories so anyone can feel the spirit of restless Howard Marks.
So no need to ask if any plainclothes policemen are in the audience. Now, Mr NICE stuff is safe, legal and will bring only joy and benefits to your body and soul.