3.5 out of 5 stars (above average)
I entered into Jordan Peele’s Nope excited. His previous two films, 2017’s Get Out and 2019’s Us (the latter of which earned a rare 5 stars from me) were thoroughly entertaining, detailed, and most importantly, scary horror films that quickly established him as a talent to watch. While Nope is being marketed as a horror film, in actuality it’s more of a bizarre sci-fi comedy with horror elements that continues Peele’s streak of fantastic casting and well-written characters, but unfortunately lacks the full narrative cohesiveness that made his previous outings so great.
Brother and sister OJ (Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out, Black Panther) and Emerald (Keke Palmer, Hustlers) own a horse-training facility for Hollywood productions that’s been in their family for generations. The trouble is, they’re financially strapped and need something big to keep ownership of it. Their prayers are seemingly answered when OJ sees a UFO in the sky and Emerald gets the idea to film it and sell the footage for cash. However, this task will take them down a path that may cost them everything and leave their town in danger.
Nope has a lot of individually great elements that sadly don’t all congeal. Kaluuya and Palmer are in great form as the leads, the film gives us time to connect with them, and the script is surprisingly humorous. Steven Yeun and Keith David are also fantastic, but underutilized (with David’s going completely unresolved) and the film’s attempts at deeper symbolism don’t emotionally connect for me. The film has a sense of wonder about the spacecraft and provides a visually awe-inspiring finale, but the hanging plot threads sadly hold it back from greatness. It’s a good movie and the performances, humor, and intrigue hold you through, but I wish it could have connected everything more succinctly. Nope is well-acted, funny, and has some grand spectacle, but not all the narrative threads beam up properly. See it for the good stuff.
Rated R For Language Throughout and Some Violence/Bloody Images