Tay’s review published on Letterboxd:
i’m glad i waited to rewatch before trying to sort and articulate my thoughts—Nope definitely is worth repeated viewing, if not to totally clarify some murkier parts, then definitely to appreciate some well-planted pieces in the impeccable first act
what i’ve taken away is the film’s weakness is in its third act and underbaked characters, the latter of which kind of shapes the former. although Palmer and Kaluuya both give great performances, a lot of their acting is physical—they’re very expressive, and commands a certain presence, even when what they’re saying isn’t all that revealing. their dynamic as siblings remains a bit unclear, and their relationship with their father is definitely a missed point to have delved deeper into. and the big “why” of it all—why are they doing this? why do they continue, even when odds of survival seem dire—also isn’t well-defined. like, yeah, they want money (or fame?) but… why????
that gap in the “why” makes the third act’s clumsiness feel that much clunkier. it’s thrilling to watch, but suddenly peripheral characters (also underbaked) only add to the confusion, and don’t deliver the momentum that Palmer & Kalyuua do
a less technically impressive film would’ve been awful if it suffered these same shortcomings. but one of the reasons i was so confused after my first viewing is that even though i felt all these things—even though i still had questions, and felt certain there were logical holes that were stumping me—i still liked a lot about it. the filmmaking really is so impressive, and just leaps and bounds above both Get Out (which i love) and Us (which i hate). there’s an incredible sound design that engages the most with the horror elements, but ultimately this film shines as a cool and original sci fi, even toeing into western territory
i think Nope tries to say something interesting about the commodification of other people’s pain, and the spectacle of cyclical trauma. does it say it all clearly? no—and some of this is because a key component, the side plot of Jupiter & Gordy, is a mixed bag of clear & confusing. but does it say it boldly, does it try to explore this in an interesting way? yeah, definitely, and i’m willing to engage with that much more than if it avoided swinging all together.
maybe it missed the home run, but the movie takes a pretty good lap toward third. or something. i don’t know enough about sports or horses for this to land