NOPE is directed by Jordan Peele. The film stars Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Brandon Perea, Michael Wincott, Terry Notary, and Steven Yeun.
OJ and Emerald, brother and sister, own a horse ranch that caters to Hollywood productions, but they’ve fallen on hard times, forcing them to sell many of their horses to a nearby Western-themed amusement park run by a former child actor. When their father dies under mysterious circumstances with projectiles falling from the sky, and a group of people goes missing at the amusement park, the twosome decides to try and capture evidence of an unidentified flying object. Their efforts recruiting a local tech expert, and a filmmaker interested in catching the next big thing on film. But what is the secret of the object, and are lives in danger?
Jordan Peele has made quite an impact on the world of modern cinema with films like GET OUT and US, both of which have been critically acclaimed and a hit with audiences. Following the success of those films, audiences were wondering what they’d get next from Peele. NOPE is the rising director/writer’s latest effort, putting a science fiction twist on things. While some aspects of the movie are uneven and it does struggle a bit to find its footing in the first half, once it gets going, it never lets up. Overall, it’s another solid entry in Peele’s steadily growing filmography.
The thing I admire most about Peele’s writing is the way he’s able to create likable, relatable, and at times hilarious characters, and throw them into strange and unfathomable situations. NOPE continues this trend, giving us an entertaining pair of foils in the form of the brother/sister duo, a Fry’s Electronics employee who steals every scene he’s in, and a noteworthy filmmaker who wants in on the flying saucer phenomenon. The way Peele brings these persons together in both a social element and the unusual circumstances of this film alike makes for some interesting moments. Peele could easily direct a straight comedy, drama, or a comedy/drama without sci-fi/horror elements, and it would still be a fantastic film. If that doesn’t speak for how well he handles characterizations and the like, I don’t know what does.
Science fiction stories that revolve around aliens/UFOs/etc. have been around forever, even long before film. But it’s becoming increasingly difficult to create fresh stories that don’t feel derivative of existing tales. Leave it to Jordan Peele to put the fresh spin on this concept it has long needed. I won’t go into details here due to the nature of spoilers, though. Just understand that once the movie hits its second half, it goes into some interesting territory that never lets up, complete with an epic finale.
The otherwise excellent film does lag in a few areas, however. The biggest issue is the first half of the movie in which it struggles to find what kind of film it wants to be. Juggling genres is a challenge which Peele is mostly up for, but I couldn’t quite tell where the movie was going at some points, particularly early on.
The film’s biggest problem is with how it handles the Steven Yeun character. The actor is great and does the best he can with this part… but in the grand scheme of things, the character is largely unnecessary and is overdeveloped given that the film largely abandons him about halfway through. A subplot regarding the character’s past and a disaster on set involving a bloodthirsty simian has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the movie, yet is frequently revisited during the movie’s first half. Nothing here ties together with the movie’s central plot (unless there’s something integral that I missed). I don’t understand why this character appears on the promotional posters instead of the Fry’s Electronics character, who actually plays a much larger role.
Overall, I say yes to NOPE. First half inconsistencies aside, it’s a solid sci-fi thriller that still manages to find time for a few more humorous moments along the way. Jordan Peele has proven himself a force to be reckoned with in the movie industry, and his latest cinematic effort is no exception. Strongly recommended!