Featuring: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Brandon Perea and Michael Wincott
Written and Directed by Jordan Peele
Richard Burton and Johnny Depp, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, Wes Anderson and Bill Murray. There are a great number of classic director/actor combinations which have developed throughout the years, and the dynamic duo of Jordan Peele and Daniel Kaluuya seems to be creeping up amongst them. The intelligent and thoughtful gaze of Kaluuya compliments the eerie and unpredictable nature of Peele’s stories, in a manner which reflects the audience’s own ideas, but perhaps in an even calmer way. The horror and thrill of Peele’s recent – and already impressive – back catalogue (Get Out, Us, Nope), may contain moments to make an audience leap from their seats, but would only get a slight widening of the eyes from his leading man. Although Kaluuya remains absent within 2019’s ‘Us’, the madness of ‘Get Out’ and this years’ ‘Nope’, can be explored in even more tender detail thanks to the brilliance of this director-performer combination.
Jordan Peele has absolutely reached a stage now where he can truly go in any direction he likes. His 2017 breakthrough onto the filmmaking scene, ‘Get Out’, showcased talents which were reinforced within the sophomore release, ‘Us’. For this third film, maintaining originality whilst also wanting to repeat the success of his previous work may have been a difficult task, but ‘Nope’ delivers one of the most exciting and original thrillers I’ve seen in recent years. Plotlines, ideas, and characters all lead the story into fascinating avenues that are unlikely for any audiences to hypothesise about before taking their seat. Although the motivation behind some actions, or the plotlines of some characters, can at times seem slightly erratic or untidily rushed, the film mostly delivers one exciting turn after another, resulting in perhaps the strongest film from Peele since ‘Get Out’.
As for the story of ‘Nope’, I can’t recommend enough going in with as little knowledge as possible. Even those with a vague understanding of the concept or plot line will still be in for a treat though, as the film revolves around the sci-fi genre in a manner which hasn’t felt this intriguing since Denis Villenvues’ ‘Arrival’ in 2013. Although completely different films, both come as the work of a director firmly hitting their stride, as they explore ideas which were present in their previous films, but begin to traverse completely new regions in equal, or greater measure.
Of course the story is great, the performances work well within the context of the story, but also this is just a film which looks incredible. The colour palette is consistently dusty and barren throughout, to match the horse ranch setting, but moments of dynamic and colourful imagery, dotted precisely throughout, re-engage the audience with their fascinating composition. Whether that be a setting as simple as a supermarket, late-night diner, or live television set from decades ago, each scene holds the audiences gaze in a well-crafted way so as to constantly reinforce the idea that these are people mixed up in an exciting and unpredictable adventure.
Definitely not the creepiest or most thrilling of his films, I would most likely categorise Peele’s new film as more of sci-fi/western/adventure. In fact, aside from the occasional intensity of a small handful of scenes, many of the supposedly more edge-of-your-seat moments, play out beautifully thanks to the incredible composition and set designs of the visuals. Though it may not contain the social and political depth of ‘Get Out’ – at least not any that has surfaced so far – ‘Nope’ is a film which simply makes for compelling viewing. A perfect cinema film.