Only God Forgives | Chicago Reader

Only God Forgives

After the relatively mild-mannered Hollywood release Drive (2011), Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn returns with a grisly tale of vengeance set in the Bangkok underground. Ryan Gosling is the relative good guy (he refuses to murder a schoolgirl), an American drug smuggler caught up in a war between his dragon-lady mother (Kristin Scott Thomas, outstanding) and an icy crime kingpin who dispatches victims with a samurai sword (Vithaya Pansringarm). As always, Refn's style is captivating—much of the action takes place under infernal red light, against patterned wallpaper—but the fascination with extreme gore never amounts to more than a fetish, and there's none of the deft characterization that made his revered Pusher trilogy and British biopic Bronson so engaging. In English and subtitled Thai.

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