A Double Feature Review!
Jordan Peele does it again: gifting us with an exhilarating, funny, and wholly original sci-fi thriller. Actors Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Brandon Perea, and Steven Yeun are superb. Nope is great, and it is also an exciting summer blockbuster. Since 2017, Jordan Peele (Get Out and Us) has continued to show us why he is one of the best directors in Hollywood currently making films. Peele's blend of horror and comedy continues to succeed. Get Out was a well-oiled machine of horror/comedy fueled with thought-provoking themes and social commentary, while 2019's Us let loose with sheer terror and gory thrills. Now, in 2022, Peele returns with Nope: a science fiction horror feature that dabbles with influences of The Twilight Zone and Spielberg.
Yet, Peele knows how to subvert our expectations with his movies. And if you think that this is just another standard UFO (unidentified flying object) trip judging by the trailers, then think again. Without revealing the plot, I will say that all the actors (Kaluuya, Palmer, Perea, and Yeun) in this picture excel to new floating heights. Nope is wholly original and also an incredibly ambitious piece of sci-fi storytelling. Peele digs deep into the mechanisms of showbiz, turning tragedy into profit, trainer/animal relationships, and how humans will risk everything for spectacle. As usual: Peele riddles his third outing with more symbolism and parallel storytelling. However, Nope is also Peele's most straightforward popcorn feature to date. In the end, Nope is a film that will leave you in awe while also sending chills down your spine. It's thrilling, funny, and frightening throughout. So, hang on tight because this summer movie spectacle is ready for lift-off.
Nope is rated R (Restricted) Some Violence/Bloody Images | Language Throughout.
Directed by Jordan Peele
Starring Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Brandon Perea, and Steven Yeun.
The Gray Man
The Gray Man is a dull and sloppy action thriller. The Russo Brothers continue to struggle with directing outside the superhero realm. The cast (Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas, and Chris Evans) does their best with the material given to them, but it's $200 million wasted. The Gray Man marks Gosling’s first film back in four years, and he deserved a better movie. Sigh. The Gray Man might be colorful and action-packed, but it's also an incredibly forgettable film. The story was generic and riddled with clichés from start to finish, while the action sequences were messy, flashy, and poorly executed. The Gray Man was a frustrating watch because I know that the Russo Brothers can make a good movie that's balanced with well-crafted action sequences, i.e., Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame.
Unfortunately, they have struggled to make a well-balanced picture outside the superhero bubble. After the mega success of 2019's Endgame, Anthony and Joe Russo followed it up with a total misfire (2021's Cherry). Now, we have another disappointing post-Endgame picture that's all style and zero substance. Our story follows a CIA black ops assassin, codename Six (Gosling), who is forced to go on the run after uncovering incriminating secrets about the agency he works for. A psychopathic former colleague (Evans) puts a bounty on Six's head, setting off a global manhunt of international assassins. That's as far as I will go with the plot. Sadly, The Gray Man never takes ambitious leaps outside the spy world. Instead, the film stays in a very formulaic lane, overshadowed by much stronger action pictures. Some might find this type of filmmaking enjoyable. Personally, I would rather have a spy adventure with a little more depth to it; but that's just me.
The Gray Man is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned) Strong Language | Strong Violence.
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo
Starring Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jessica Henwick, Regé-Jean Page, and Billy Bob Thornton.
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