Josh Rode, DVD Verdict --Mr. Nice is a biography of sorts, so it focuses on Howard's exploits in a purely linear fashion, with little regard for conventional story tropes. Dramatic moments happen almost randomly, while scenes that seem to be leading to something big end up fizzling. For instance, at one point, while he is supposedly in hiding, Howard tells us, "I had a lot of friends. They knew who I was and I was fully aware that any one of them could turn me in at any time. I just big-headedly assumed that everyone who knew me liked me and would do no such thing." A nice setup for what seems an inevitable betrayal, but nothing immediately comes of it. He does eventually get arrested, but by the time the film gets to that stage, the context of the comment is long gone, and no turncoat is ever implicated.
This inability to harness the story's inherent drama is Mr. Nice's biggest hindrance. "Every time I cross the border (with a load of drugs)," Howard tells the audience, "I get a religious flash and an asexual orgasm." This is a prime example of every storyteller's biggest gripe: show, don't tell. The very few scenes depicting border crossings do nothing to build cinematic tension. Howard pulls up to a border station, they wave him through; not even the music acts like something momentous might happen. Later, after his face is fairly well known, he find other means, but still the film fails to create any sense of danger, tipping the audience off to the scam almost immediately.
Fortunately, the acting is fabulous. Ifan has charisma to spare and his Howard careens through life with an air of innocence and naivety that belies his illicit actions. Chloe Sevigny (Big Love) does a similarly nice job as his girlfriend, Judy. The chemistry between the two is strong enough that the fact that she chooses to stay with him despite everything is always believable. David Thewlis (London Boulevard) steals every scene he's in, as lunatic IRA gun runner Jim McCann.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic presentation is clean of defects and grain. It uses color (or, sometimes, lack of such) for some interesting visual effects, but overall the tones have a faded quality which helps keep the feel of a film from the Sixties or Seventies. The Dolby 5.1 surround sound is mostly clear as well, although neither the subwoofer nor the surrounds are used to much effect. The only extras are a "making of" featurette and a trailer for the film.
Though not a classic biopic by any means, strong performances balance out the lack of dramatic cohesion, making Mr. Nice interesting and enjoyable.
-Full review at dvdverdict.com