When it’s all said and done, Only God Forgives unfolds in a manner so uncaring of its own story that it manages to make Drive seem nuanced and multi-faceted by comparison. As the brief run-time drains away, Refn placates his own peculiar goal – either one intended to enrage audiences, or one born out of genuine delusion – ahead of making an entertaining and coherent film. Though the pic will be sold on its soaring lead star, his contributions here are scarely memorable – with the exception of a brilliantly-scored fight scene against Chang – and it’s easy to believe that his scenes could have been filmed inside of about a week (especially given the abundance of slow motion).
Simply, without a brand name like Refn’s at the helm, there’s no way this project would be In Competition at Cannes, nor would it have attracted its talented stars, nor even found its way out of your local bargain bin. A sure regression from the director’s prior work, Only God Forgives is a hugely disappointing, hollow shell of a movie.