Josh Barton’s review published on Letterboxd:
What's a bad miracle?
Jordan Peele has forged quite a reputation for himself as a filmmaker after only just two films to his name, Get Out and Us both showcasing just how exciting a talent he is behind the camera. His latest, Nope, continues that trend in quite spectacular fashion.
After random objects falling from the sky result in the death of their father, ranch-owning siblings OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer) attempt to capture video evidence of an unidentified flying object with the help of tech salesman Angel Torres (Brandon Perea) and documentarian Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott).
Opening with an incredibly morbid and disturbing sequence that will later be expanded upon, Jordan Peele's Nope is an intriguing mystery box of a film that once again proves Peele knows how to really get under the skin of an audience while delivering plenty of subtle humour throughout. Peele likes placing his main characters in such extraordinary circumstances and his writing really does a great job in emphasising the fear and uncertainty they possess in the midst of it all, Nope being the perfect title for this film with how OJ and Emerald approach their many encounters with the unidentified flying object and the strange happenings that occur when it appears.
Nope is a visually stunning film that fully utilises being shot with IMAX cameras to fill the screen with some masterful shots from Hoyte van Hoytema that will keep your eye on the sky for some unusual activity. There's also some incredible sound design on display that fully immerses you in all the oddities, while Michael Abels' score works wonders in flitting through the genres Nope riffs on, from sci-fi to western.
An aspect of Jordan Peele's films that always hits the mark is the performances and that is no different in Nope. Reuniting with Daniel Kaluuya after the success of Get Out, Peele has a leading man who possesses such a commanding screen presence. Kaluuya was great at selling the idea of a man thrown into an extraordinarily horrific situation in Get Out and he does it yet again here, the titular word delivered to perfection several times with that comedic edge Peele just loves.
Keke Palmer is the film's other lead and she delivers a fantastic performance full of wonder and the kind of comedic timing that simply cannot be taught. There's also sterling support work from Steven Yeun as the owner of a local theme park and Brandon Perea as a tech salesman, who voluntarily throws himself into the hunt for proof of the unidentified flying object with the brother and sister. Each and every one of them plays their part in making Nope one of the more entertaining and compelling films of the year.
For me, a bit like Us before it, Nope doesn't quite hit the heights of Get Out, yet it's still an outstanding film from Jordan Peele. We have a new master at blending genres and long may this impressive run in filmmaking continue.