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Jordan Peele’s ‘Nope’ Is The Must-See Spectacle Of The Summer – Review

First things first, no spoilers. Plus, even if I could sum it up, it wouldn’t do it any justice, for Jordan Peele’s Nope is something that must be seen to be truly understood. But be warned, you might not get it at first or at least have a different understanding from the rest of us. Which is okay. Jordan Peele loves to have his art receive multiple interpretations. 

Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya in Nope.
Keke Palmer as Emerald and Daniel Kaluuya as OJ in Nope. (Courtesy of Universal Pictures)

Now that we have that out of the way, Nope is a story about siblings OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer) as they take on the family business after the passing of their father. Soon after, a mysterious turn of events causes the Haywood siblings to band together in an attempt to capture a “bad miracle” or die trying. 

I’d pay to just visit the world within Peele’s mind. He’s obviously a fan of horror, sci-fi, and comedy and has a strong perspective on socio-cultural issues, especially pertaining to Black people. But the way that he takes multiple genres — in this case, horror, sci-fi, and western — and merges them with history and social issues is nothing short of genius. 

The film’s first act sets up an intriguing premise. The second act is thrilling. The third act cements this film as a summer blockbuster. And while I refrain from crucial details, the film itself becomes an overall look at the aftermath of the trailblazer. 

Keke Palmer as Emerald, Brandon Perea as Angel and Daniel Kaluuya as OJ in Nope. (Courtesy of Universal Pictures)

Many folks with marginalized identities know what it’s like to be “the only one” or “the first” in a space. Whether it’s at a job, school, or in a neighborhood, being the first or only leaves a legacy. But what you might gain may not outweigh what you lose along the way. This is also a similar tale with the price of ambition, something each main character seems to wrestle with. 

But that’s hard to decipher when the trailers leave so much to the imagination, and multiple fan theories flood the internet but fail to capture what’s really happening in Nope. But even when you’re watching the film, it contains multiple focuses that, at first, prevent you from uncovering the plot. And while the film stretches itself with the various stories it tells, it ultimately finds central themes coming together within the third act.

What also comes together is Peele’s fanboying over different films. Nope is clearly influenced by the obsessive elements of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and the predator/prey relationship within Jaws. Do what you will with that information. 

Keke Palmer as Emerald in Nope. (Courtesy of Universal Pictures)

But both of these films generate enough fear of the unknown, whether that be space or the sea, and Peele expertly takes that to the next level in his film. Fair warning, if you have phonophobia (fear of loud noises), kenophobia (fear of open spaces), or megalophobia (fear of big things), this may not be the movie for you. 

Additionally, as usual, Peele finds a stellar cast to carry his film’s vision. Daniel Kaluuya and Steven Yeun provide great emotional depth and sorrow, while Keke Palmer and Brandon Perea provide enough charisma to fill a room. But a special shoutout goes to Kaluuya and Palmer.

Kaluuya’s sullen nature within the film is so strong and is done with such a nuanced performance. As for Palmer, this role feels like it was literally made for her. We haven’t seen her give this type of range before, and she effortlessly nails comedy, fear, grief, and joy all in one movie. Together, when the theatrical powers of Kaluuya and Palmer combine, we get a glimpse of siblings with a challenging relationship, but ultimately one filled with love. 

Daniel Kaluuya as OJ in Nope. (Courtesy of Universal Pictures)

And granted, many of these details are left open to interpretation, and many may find meaning where others do not. Additionally, like the rest of Peele’s movies, you may need to see it again to find a new theme or to identify a clue about the plot that you didn’t know existed previously. Honestly, fans of Peele’s work do it anyway. Might as well join in. 

And while many things feel left unsaid, what I left with was an intense feeling of dread, some confusion, but plenty of entertainment. 

Rating: 9/10

Nope opens in theaters on July 22.

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