Director: Jordan Peele
Writer: Jordan Peele
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Michael Wincott, Brandon Perea, Wrenn Schmidt, Barbie Ferreira, and Keith David
Jordan Peele’s third film as writer/director, Nope, has finally been released in the UK, a few weeks after its release in America. With all the hype the film has, it’s great to say that it lives up to it. Peele has absolutely nailed it yet again with something that feels completely unique and awe inspiring. Without going into too much detail of the plot (as it’s definitely best to go into this one knowing as little as possible, even the trailer doesn’t give anything major away), Nope is essentially about a brother and sister, played by Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer, who are trying to keep their family business alive after their father, Otis Sr. (Keith David) dies in a freak accident.
Like Peele’s previous films, Nope is a horror, but this time he brings a sci-fi twist into the story with the main characters trying to capture evidence of a UFO. It does takes a little while to reveal what the film is actually about, with scenes showing an accident on a TV show in the 90s as well as spending a little time with the siblings to get to know them, and then when the main plot is revealed everything is escalated and it just continuous builds from there. While it’s not out right scary, the film has some incredibly tense moments, especially since none of the characters really feel safe at any time. There’s a real sense of danger everywhere and it’s completely engrossing from start to finish. Even with the tension running so high, there’s still room for a few laughs throughout. The comedy works and doesn’t feel forced or out of place.
The best thing about Nope is the characters, which all feel absolutely real. Daniel Kaluuya is as brilliant as always playing OJ, a hard worker, trying to keep his family’s business alive, pretty much by himself. He’s very reserved and a step away from society, living on an isolated ranch, with an older mobile phone that’s at least a decade out of date. He also struggles to communicate with others, not being able to explain the safety precautions as the animal handler on a commercial set, and unable to get his point across when discussing a business deal. He’s an interesting character and one that’s easy to connect with.
His sister, on the other hand, has the exact opposite personality. Emerald (Keke Palmer) is completely outgoing, having no problem being herself and doing what she thinks is best. Palmer is fantastic and both her and Kaluuya work really well with each other, with their sibling relationship feeling very authentic. Joining the mix is Angel (Brandon Perea), a tech expert who sets up the cameras on the ranch. Angel wants to be part of the main story, forcing his way in, despite the other characters objections. He’s a great character that you can’t help but get behind.
There’s an obsession with turning ‘bad miracles’ as well as everything else into profit running throughout the film. The main characters are trying to capture footage of the UFO in order to make a profit and save their family business. Ricky (Steven Yeun) survived a traumatic event as a child star and has turned a hidden room in his office into a shrine to what happened, making money out of people who want to stay there. There’s even a TMZ reporter who turns up close to the finale, who doesn’t care about his own life, beyond wanting to document everything for content. It’s an interesting statement on the real world and how we interact with each other in the digital age.
Nope is a little over two hours, and you do feel its length at points. For the most part everything is really well paced, and as the ending starts to get close, it’s surprising how quickly the time has gone. Even with some pacing issues, it’s still a massively entertaining film, and once it gets to the big finale everything settles back into place and the stunning visuals of the final scenes more than makes up for.
Nope is another triumph from Jordan Peele. An incredibly tense and well-crafted story that harkens back to the golden era of B-Movies, and classic sci-fi stories. There are mumblings about a potential sequel, and whether that happens or not, it’ll still be exciting to see what Peele does next.
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