After the success of the groundbreaking film Get Out in 2017 and 2019’s Us, Jordan Peele solidified himself as one of Hollywood’s leading visionaries. Even his 30 second trailers are dissected like Zapruder film. Every second is combed over and searched for clues that could tip the audience as to what the film is about.
Peele’s latest film Nope is cloaked in the same mysterious aura his previous films had – a very intriguing trailer that gives nothing away.
Nope follows Hollywood horse wranglers OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and his sister Em (Keke Palmer). While struggling to keep the family business afloat after the tragic passing of their father (played by Keith David), OJ sees what he believes is a UFO. Em has the bright idea to capture the UFO on film and sell the footage for money. It doesn’t take long before OJ and Em realize things aren’t exactly as they seem.
Peele’s films are fantastic…but what makes them fantastic is also what makes them hard to review or discuss without spoiling. There’s usually some twist, a curveball, or “ah ha” moment designed to stun audiences aka the moments you have to talk around…unless you’re a jerk. Don’t be a jerk.
I will say the concept is new, very creative, and an interesting edition to the sci-fi genre.
Nope does not work without its excellent cast. Peele brought back is old pal, Academy Award Winner Daniel Kaluuya, to play the lead OJ. The last time we saw Kaluuya was giving powerful speeches as the later Chairman Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah. In Nope, Kaluuya continues to excel, this time by saying as few words as possible. OJ is a soft-spoken horse wrangler that speaks more with his eyes than his mouth and that’s perfect for Kaluuya who might be the King of Eye Acting. Behind those eyes, Kaluuya shows OJ’s strength, love, vulnerability, and curiosity. That’s what makes him such a special actor.
The supporting cast includes Brandon Perea as Angel, Steven Yuen as Jupe, and Michael Wincott as Antlers Holst. The breakout star of the film is Keke Palmer as Em. She’s a force of nature for 135 minutes. Her performance anchors the film. Palmer’s performance made me look at her IMDB page. We need Keke Palmer in more things and this performance may rocket ship that helps her take off.
Three things work really well for Nope. The first is Keke Palmer. The film doesn’t work without her electric performance. The second the comedy. The film is riddled with more jokes and laugh out loud moment that most people anticipated. It helps the film strike a nice balance by keeping you laughing right before you see something really messed up.
The last thing that worked is the cinematography. There are some incredible wide shots, some great close up shots, some amazing shots with something strange happening in the background. Nope is a beautifully made film. It reminds me of the feeling Spielberg tried to capture in his blockbuster films from the 80’s.
Nope is another great offering from the mind of Jordan Peele. It’s a film that will get better the more you watch it. It begs to be dissected like Peel’s 30-second trailers. It will remind you while Daniel Kaluuya is one of the best leading men in Hollywood and why we all need more Keke Palmer in our lives. I can’t wait to see what frightening idea Jordan Peele comes up with next.