Jordan Peele's sci-fi/comedy horror movie doesn't quite have the cultural impact of his earlier films, but it's an expertly constructed, hugely entertaining ride. Each intricate puzzle piece is perfectly fitted. Nope doesn't have as much to say about America and where we are right now as Get Out and Us did, but that's about where any complaints might stop. This film seems to be concerned with themes of humans attempting to tame and control other species, up to and including filming them for entertainment and profit. A subplot about a chimp that snapped and went on a bloody rampage on the set of a 1990s TV sitcom doesn't quite seem to belong to the overall plot about UFOs, but, upon reflection, it helps put everything in context. It connects everything.
Peele's skill as a filmmaker keeps improving. His camera placement, cutting, and shocking use of sound design and music combine to create a truly surprising experience. We're frequently kept off-balance as bits of mystery are doled out sparingly, then slyly answered, only to be replaced by new mysteries. Details that may seem insignificant can become important, or vice versa. Best of all, Peele lets his comedy side flow here. While his last two films had funny moments, the tension was too strong to really allow for laughter. Here, the balance allows for more big laughs, more often. Kaluuya and Palmer are responsible for many of these, as well as for all of the movie's heart. Kaluuya's stoic, monosyllabic character and Palmer's chatty, free-spirited one are opposites, but also part of a whole. They make us say "Yep" to Nope.