Nope

Nope

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Nope has been marketed as a science-fiction horror film but the truth is Nope doesn't really care about either of these. What it does care about is exploitation and our addiction to it as humans. It opens with the Biblical line "I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a spectacle" for two reasons. One, to summarise thematically what the film will cover, and two, to show these desires have been hard baked into human culture since we could share stories at all. But we can do things about it.

Nope sets up so many different directions the plot can go, and then about a third of the way into it, it decides it's going to cover all of them, with plenty of gruesome detail. Because that's what you want to see right? I really loved how the segmented storytelling only appears after you've already invested in these characters for a while. Remarkably, the different tones and genres the film tightropes through make the film impossible to predict. Nope refuses to explain itself in such a way that I was constantly teetering on the edge of my seat desperate to see the next plot reveal. And every single time I had worked out the direction the story was going, I was so transfixed by what I was seeing that I couldn't theorise on it at all.

By complete coincidence I went to this wearing my favourite shirt; my Akira shirt. At first, I thought I was making tenuous connections in my own head between the two, then I thought the scene where the alien squeezes the humans together felt oddly familiar, and by the time the ACTUAL FUCKING BIKE SLIDE happened I was hooting and hollering. The design of Jean Jacket is magnificent as well; I really need to check out concept art for this. Does this mean Jordan Peele has seen Evangelion? I don't know if I like knowing that Epic Rap Battles of History and Evangelion are only one link away from each other now. Fantastic acting performances from everybody in this as well.

Part of me wonders if Jordan Peele is trying to make a deliberate connection between the treatment of animals and the treatment of minorities. The film begins with Keith David talking about "how he had to have you in the sequel" over footage of Daniel Kaluuya minding his own business, which is already quite on the nose. The scenes on the set where everyone is poking and prodding the horse while the film's majority white crew is basically doing the same to OJ. The jockey being exploited for Eadweard Muybridge's photography is paralleled to the cinematographer's film photography of animals, Steven Yeun's character exploits his own personal tragedy for profit after bonding with the murderous monkey (that sitcom footage!), and even Kaluuya and Keke Palmer are trying to film Jean Jacket to make some money off it. Hey! I just realised his name's OJ. That's pretty blatant, isn't it?

What's tying all of these cases together is that they were solely for monetary gain, even if in the case of our horse wranglers it was necessary for them to live. It seems like a heavy commentary that looking away from society's ills is quite difficult, and in some cases impossible to resist. We live in a time now where you get flooded dopamine on your phone but if you fall for this, you’re considered an idiot. As if you're not some biological mass of meat specifically designed to seek out those chemicals. I think it's kind of brilliant that Jordan Peele made a movie about our dependence on technology and set the whole thing in a barren desert with an alien that literally blows out the power.

I guess you could argue the only person who resists that desire to gawk is the cinematographer but he seemed maybe a bit too eager to end up in Jean Jacket's guts. On the other hand, he was the paparazzi by another name, desperate to try document as much as he could, when by nature a camera can only capture one facet of depth. The camera motif definitely seems like a reflection on our desire to record anything we don't understand so we can write it off immediately. You can even see that happening with this film. I'm not saying you can't critique it, but seriously, almost every negative piece of coverage of this movie is because the writer had a desire to find a definitive explanation for everything. You can't just not know things anymore. It's kind of genius that Jean Jacket relies on you paying attention to it for its power. It is literally a monster of our own creation. If I was Adam McKay, I would be mortified someone made a colossally better version of my movie barely eight months later. I saw ads for Don't Look Up on my bus ride over to the theatre by the way.

If you can take only one lesson away from this film, let it be this: Jordan Peele fucking hates TMZ lmfao.

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