Nerve is a teen thriller and action flick that touts a shiny, neon feel and cutting edge social media combined with the age old game of Dare. This isn’t an entirely original concept – we’ve seen it before with David Fincher’s The Game. While Nerve doesn’t pull off the story as well as the former, it definitely feels like a bastard, adolescent version for this generation.
Industrious high school senior, Vee Delmonico, has had it with living life on the sidelines. When pressured by friends to join the popular online game Nerve, Vee decides to sign up for just one dare in what seems like harmless fun. But as she finds herself caught up in the thrill of the adrenaline-fueled competition partnered with a mysterious stranger, the game begins to take a sinister turn with increasingly dangerous acts, leading her into a high stakes finale that will determine her entire future. ~ Lionsgate
The storyline is fairly unbelievable and regularly bombarded with convenient solutions. We are told that the game is run entirely by the Watchers, however there are so many aspects that would require a certain amount of architects and ringleaders that it’s difficult to suspend disbelief. Somehow a game in which players are risking their lives and the lives of innocent bystanders has flown completely under the radar of the authorities, but there are thousands of watchers and players involved across New York. Uh huh. There comes a point when our teen characters need a little tech-y help, and conveniently one of them knows a hacker god. The ending becomes a little preachy and begins to derail. It’s as if writer Jessica Sharzer and directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost couldn’t quite figure out how to subtly add a disclaimer to the dares in the film and decided to wrap it into a hasty conclusion.
The acting is hit and miss. Emma Roberts is mostly convincing as Vee, Dave Franco is adorable as usual, and Juliette Lewis is once again wasted as a concerned ‘mom’ with little screen time. Franco and Roberts do have some chemistry, though he’s the only one she really has any chemistry with. I think the actors involved did the best they could with the script – which often feels like a script. Acting that involved the least amount of lines tended to feel far more genuine than, say, a teen spat between besties with retorts and ‘deep’ cuts to the other’s egos.
That all being said, this would normally rank on the list of movies that I’d rather scrape my face off with a rusty tin can lid before ever having to watch again, HOWEVER… Nerve is surprisingly fun. As far as keeping you on the edge of your seat with harrowing dares and moving at a fast pace from action scene to action scene, Nerve gets the job done incredibly well. There is something to be said about a movie that allows you to just turn off your brain and enjoy the ride. Nerve is nearly there, and I believe the intended audience of teens will have an easier time doing so than the adults in the room.