Every film has flaws. Even the best films. I wouldn't say Only God Forgives was the best film, but it was created by a great, visionary, director, and stars great actors. So what happened and how can you make this film better?
1. Distinguish dream sequences with reality.
What really threw me through a loop was the fact that I didn't know if I was in a dream sequence or reality. It was hard to follow. In the beginning, Ryan Gosling is sitting in a chair watching a prostitute please herself, which is cross cut between Ryan Gosling walking down a red hallway and having his hands chopped off. Unless Gosling's character was using LSD during the entire film, help me distinguish what was real and what wasn't. Even after I believed we were done with the dream sequences, Ryan Gosling sits in a strip club. Right away he stands in the middle of a forest with three officers and the Angel of Vengeance.
2. Maybe a little longer.
I'll talk about plot holes in a bit, but this film lacks substance. It is filled with depth, but not long enough for the audience to enjoy everything that is going on. It seems that the director made the basics of the script and decided to make the film right afterward. He didn't go back and read the script until it was too late. Then again, I'm pretty sure Nicholas Winding Refn was just shooting the film for the sheer purpose of the amazing cinematography. I would say that the film would have been great if it was another hour long. Someone who puts this much into a film has an obligation to himself, the script, the actors, and the audience to create a film that is worth diving into. Only God Forgives is like the back cover of a book. We get what the story is basically about, but we don't get everything it has to offer.
3. Fill the plot holes.
This goes hand in hand with #2 on the list. There were a lot of plot holes. If the film was another hour longer all the plot holes would've, hopefully, been filled. Fill in the plot holes of what happened to Ryan's character at the end of the film and his lover.
4. Give Ryan Gosling more lines.
Unlike Drive (2011), Ryan Gosling would've benefited from talking in this film. He doesn't say much and sometimes it is annoying, because you don't know what is always going through his head. At one point, he sticks his hand into his dead mother's open stomach. You can see that he has some pain behind those eyes, but why? His mother was a complete bitch and hated him. It made no sense unless he spoke to his mother. I remember that there were three lines spoken between them. Give Ryan Gosling more dialogue so we can dissect the character he is, was, and will become.