Based on the memoirs of Welsh drug-trafficker Howard Marks, this tale of a louche life is rather like its subject – tall, self-indulgent and rather windy. Rhys Ifans brings a scapegrace charm to the role, at least in the early days of small-town Wales and Oxford, where Marks, a capable student ("My success went completely to my head") first embraced the joys of psychotropic drugs.
Thereafter Bernard Rose pays out far too much rope to his man as he dodges between the police, the IRA (David Thewlis, horrifically loutish as a Provo) and his sometime protectors in MI6. The longer this rackety story continues, the harder it becomes to understand exactly why we should be interested, aside from the fact that Marks dressed a bit like a rock star and expressed not a moment's remorse about his chosen vocation. Marks didn't fight the law, he just evaded it - for a while - and you'd have to take a pretty warped view of the world to find that heroic, or even antiheroic.