Metascore
37

Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 39
  2. Negative: 19 out of 39
  1. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    Jul 29, 2013
    100
    Experimental and uncompromising, Winding Refn and Gosling’s Drive follow-up is a tripped-out riff on the crime family movie in which The Grifters — literally — go to hell.
  2. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    May 22, 2013
    100
    Only God Forgives will, understandably, have people running for the exits, and running for the hills. It is very violent, but Winding Refn's bizarre infernal creation, an entire created world of fear, really is gripping. Every scene, every frame, is executed with pure formal brilliance.
  3. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Jul 19, 2013
    88
    This is one of the most shocking and one of the best movies of the year.
  4. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Jul 18, 2013
    88
    The movie contains little in terms of traditional action, and Refn never uses it in a rousing or exciting manner, either. That would break the nightmarish spell this strange, beautiful film casts on the viewer. A mother’s love has never been this ruinous.
  5. Reviewed by: Jesse Cataldo
    Jul 15, 2013
    75
    It takes the basic form of the revenge flick and dips it in tar, making for a movie that comes out sticky, nasty, and black.
  6. Reviewed by: Jessica Kiang
    May 22, 2013
    75
    Refn has consistently delivered films that have subverted our expectations, and has proven himself a master at stylistic self-reinvention, but this feels like the first time he’s gone back to any particular well.
  7. Reviewed by: James Mottram
    Jul 19, 2013
    60
    It’s no "Drive," and even hardcore fans will struggle to love a film that’s as mad as a bag of prawn crackers, but as an exercise in style, it has many moments to savour.
  8. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Jul 17, 2013
    60
    Only God Forgives suffers from the disconnect between its stylistic high-art archness and its content’s pulp gratuitousness. Refn gives every sequence a hushed consideration, but there’s rarely a sense that he’s earned it with equivalent profundity in theme.
  9. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Jul 16, 2013
    60
    Crushingly, the dependably perverse art-action director Nicolas Winding Refn has finally made a boring movie.
  10. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    May 22, 2013
    60
    Only God Forgives is a hypnotic fugue on themes of violence and retribution, drenched in corrosive reds.
  11. Reviewed by: Robbie Collin
    May 22, 2013
    60
    Only God Forgives is the spectacle of a brilliant young director spinning out in style. It’s a beautiful disaster.
  12. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jul 19, 2013
    50
    Only God Forgives is the kind of remarkable disaster only a very talented director can make after he finds success and is then allowed to do whatever he wants.
  13. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Jul 19, 2013
    50
    Where "Drive" shrewdly mystifies, Only God Forgives stupefies. You can see its gears grinding. But I'll always hang on for a rare talent like Refn. Even when he stumbles, he leaves you eager to see what he's up to next.
  14. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Jul 17, 2013
    50
    The results are sometimes striking, in pure visual terms, but rarely engaging; even as a brutish saga of underworld retribution, the film fails to get the heart pounding.
  15. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Jul 16, 2013
    50
    Refn may be taking himself too seriously or not taking anything seriously enough—it's hard to tell. But Only God Forgives, so brazen in its double-scorpion-bowl vision, is at least good for a giggle or two. Its sins are many, but after a while, it's not even worth keeping count.
  16. Reviewed by: Jordan Hoffman
    May 22, 2013
    50
    There’s no way to overstate the gorgeous look of this film, but the mannered dialogue and deliberateness of pace becomes less of an homage to Asian revenge films than a parody.
  17. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    May 22, 2013
    50
    The movie is like one thin satiric lark inexplicably slowed down to the point of lethargy.
  18. Reviewed by: Jamie S. Rich
    Jul 18, 2013
    42
    Refn's trying to make too little stretch too far.
  19. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Jul 17, 2013
    42
    It's a solemnly preposterous piece of designer revenge pulp, with actors who stand around bathed in red and blue light like David Lynch mannequins in between scenes of torture and murder.
  20. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Jul 15, 2013
    40
    However mystifying, or downright boring, you find the result, rest assured that the Refn faithful will swoon. Peace be with them.
  21. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Jul 18, 2013
    38
    Refn’s expectation-defying choice is laudable in theory, but Only God Forgives is a pretty awful drama.
  22. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Jul 18, 2013
    38
    God may forgive you for seeing this needlessly brutal film. But you won't forgive yourself.
  23. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Jul 18, 2013
    30
    The Danish filmmaker's latest theater of the macabre is brutal, bloody, saturated with revenge, sex and death, yet stunningly devoid of meaning, purpose, emotion or decent lighting. Seriously. Artful shadows can certainly set a mood; too many and it merely looks like someone is trying too hard.
  24. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Jul 17, 2013
    30
    Long after Only God Forgives concludes, only its scuzziness remains. This artistic misfire will forever be knocking on heaven’s door.
  25. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    May 22, 2013
    30
    The collision of violent spasms and art-film ennui leave the viewer’s brain bloody but unfilled.
  26. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    May 22, 2013
    30
    The wallpaper emotes more than Ryan Gosling does in Only God Forgives, an exercise in supreme style and minimal substance.
  27. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Jul 25, 2013
    25
    Ugly, gore-strewn and, ultimately, ridiculous.
  28. Reviewed by: Sara Stewart
    Jul 18, 2013
    25
    The innovation of Refn’s latest is mostly just in the way it manages to merge gory and boring. At least it’s created a new movie adjective for me: goring.
  29. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Jul 18, 2013
    25
    The most objectionable thing about Only God Forgives isn’t that it’s shocking or immoral, but that it’s so finally, fatally dull.
  30. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Sep 6, 2013
    20
    What they're missing here is a story good enough to warrant visiting the same uncomfortably dark place and characters worth caring about. Instead, what we get is a film that boasts tons of atmosphere and flashes of Refn's visual style -- as well as an admirably unhinged performance from Kristen Scott Thomas -- but little else.
  31. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jul 18, 2013
    20
    Only God Forgives would seem to be a parody of something or other — "Blue Velvet"? "Last Year At Marienbad"? — except that the film takes itself seriously to the point of suffocation in telling its lurid tale of slaughter and revenge.
  32. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Jul 18, 2013
    20
    The movie is so devoid of emotion that its ritualized gore acts as a narcotic. Filmed in shades of red, with a minimal screenplay, Only God Forgives looks like a ghoulish fashion shoot in hell. Three words should suffice: pretentious macho nonsense.
  33. Reviewed by: Kerry Lengel
    Jul 18, 2013
    20
    It’s not that overwrought violence and human depravity are unfit grist for art, but without a compelling plot and a modicum of character development, all this film has to offer is a repugnant prurience and heavy-handed atmospherics.
  34. Reviewed by: Dave Calhoun
    May 22, 2013
    20
    Style over substance doesn’t really tell the half of it: you can bathe a corpse in groovy light and dress it in an expensive suit, but in the end that rotting smell just won’t go away.
  35. Reviewed by: Ali Arikan
    Jul 19, 2013
    12
    Not only is this take on human relations unoriginal, it's also sophomoric and blatantly untrue.
  36. 0
    In my own world, Only God Forgives plays somewhat differently. I thought it was just about the worst f---ing thing I’ve ever seen. In fact, I was depressed it wasn’t laughed off the screen.
  37. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jul 18, 2013
    0
    Whether one thinks Only God Forgives is laughably awful — like, for instance, “Showgirls,” “The Color of Night” or “Battlefield: Earth” — or just plain terrible awful depends, appropriately, on how much you’re willing to forgive it.
  38. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jul 18, 2013
    0
    This is the worst, least, dumbest picture made by people of talent this year.
  39. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Jul 16, 2013
    0
    In Cannes, one wag described it as “cinematic defecation” in print. I’d like to top that one, but as James Agee used to say, I know when I’m licked.
User Score
6.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 232 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 80
  2. Negative: 33 out of 80
  1. Jul 19, 2013
    10
    Only God Forgives directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, an intense film, aesthetically perfect with beautiful colors, beautiful performances, aOnly God Forgives directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, an intense film, aesthetically perfect with beautiful colors, beautiful performances, a directorial no flaws, a wonderful movie, perfect, a beautiful soundtrack, not a fim suitable for everyone though.
    This is the real masterpiece of Refn.
    Full Review »
  2. Jul 20, 2013
    0
    Let me begin this review by stating that I loved Drive. I was able to overlook the "all style no substance" element of the movie and take itLet me begin this review by stating that I loved Drive. I was able to overlook the "all style no substance" element of the movie and take it for what it was. That being amazing art direction, great soundtrack, and decent acting. Only God Forgives, on the other hand, was one of the most terrible movie viewing experiences I've ever had. I approached the movie with an opened mind, despite the awful reviews. I was expecting another movie on the same wavelength of drive, and I figured I would be able to find enjoyable elements of the movie. I was extremely mistaken. This movie was absolute filth. The scarce dialogue makes no sense. The actors are merely emotionless robots. And the director seems to have a weird fetish for stomach churning goriness. If you consider yourself a cinephile who appreciates a good art-house movie, take it from me. EVEN GOD WILL NOT FORGIVE THIS MOVIE. If anyone deserves an Oscar for this movie, its the person who made the trailers. Full Review »
  3. Jul 20, 2013
    0
    Nothing can save this horrendous, disgusting, painful, piece of smelly trash called "Only God Forgives". Besides being completely incoherent,Nothing can save this horrendous, disgusting, painful, piece of smelly trash called "Only God Forgives". Besides being completely incoherent, the movie is like one big stare contest among a group of idiots. It is going to be tough to beat this for worst movie of the year. Full Review »