- Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Keith David
- Directed by: Jordan Peele
- Rated: R
- Running time: 2 hrs 11 mins
There was a time when, if I thought about Jordan Peele, I always thought of Raffi Benitez, the overzealous baseball player who, whenever the opportunity would arise, would smack his teammates on their posteriors while exclaiming “Slap Ass!” Then he made “Get Out,” an amazing film that earned Peele an Academy Award for his script. His sophomore film, “Us,” was nothing short of, as I described it, “a new horror masterpiece.” Needless to say, I was more than excited to see his latest film, “NOPE.”
A rancher (David) and his son, OJ – short for Otis Junior (Kaluuya) – are chatting outside a coral when they begin being pelted by objects falling from the sky. The rancher is knocked off his horse. What are these mysterious objects? What’s the story with that weird cloud that’s hovering overhead? And where did they come from?
A white-knuckled adventure into what may really be “out there,” NOPE is a film that has so many things going on you may want to see it multiple times. As I left my screening, I overheard several people commenting on what they had just watched, or at least thought they had just watched, but not in an “I’m confused” way. There are so many pieces to the puzzle that is NOPE that a second viewing may be needed to fully get the scope of the plot.
Besides OJ and his father, we meet his sister, Emerald (Palmer), a one-time child star – with a tragic past – who now fronts a Wild West show (Steven Yeun), and a couple of filmmakers looking to film the ultimate experience. Oh, and horses. Lots of horses. As Robert Shaw often said in “The Sting”…”ya follow?”
As in his previous films, Peele has assembled an amazing cast, led by his “Get Out” leading man, and Oscar winner, Kaluuya. He is supported strongly by Palmer and Yeun, whose own stories intertwine with OJ’s. Peele’s script is full of twists and turns, and the cast maneuver their way through them smoothly.
With everything going on the film could appear to drag but, thanks to Peele’s steady direction, the story flows, meshing the past and present day smoothly. The story is enhanced by a musical score that at times reminds you of “The Magnificent Seven” at one point only to meld into a true suspense score moments later.
Jordan Peele is no longer Raffi Benitez to me. Now when I hear his name I think about the cinema’s new master of suspense. If I met him, I’d shake his hand…and “Slap Ass!”