WARNING: The following review contains spoilers, I’m telling you now so you don’t pretend to be outraged later.
You never cease to be the poster children of stupidity. If you aren’t spending your parents hard earned money on Kardashian Apps or getting shot playing Pokemon Go; you decide to play an iPhone game which requires your fingerprints and personal information so that anonymous people on the internet can dare you to do dangerous things for money, what could possibility go wrong? A real life game of True or Dare without the truth. If this game were real, it would be shut down in roughly 13 minutes once the 4th high school junior jumped into a tiger cage so they could ride it for $50 followed by getting hilarious mauled to death. Stupid people win stupid prizes should be the tagline but just like a check from Lionsgate, I’m not holding my breath for any positivity to come out of this film so let’s begin the story of a game called Nerve.
We begin with a too old to be playing a high school senior, Emma Roberts playing the main character of Vee. Vee spends her life applying for expensive art colleges, talking to her friends who she doesn’t really like to begin via Skype, and getting her world news from the Huffington Post…so basically she’s just like every other dumb teenager in America today. Vee receives an invite to play a game called Nerve, a game of dare which you can pick two sides, The Watcher or The Player. If you’re a watcher, you can watch people do stupid things for money. If you are a player then you can do the stupid things yourself. You would figure that any person with half a brain would probably say “Fuck that” delete their browser history immediately but Vee isn’t your average girl, she’s actually more boring and stupid than that. Vee’s character arch is that she’s a boring teenager who hasn’t ‘lived’ life yet and needs to break out of her shell. Some would say a little thing called ‘College’ would be the best and safest place to do your living but that would make too much sense. After watching her ‘friend’ Sydney show her ass for money, she decides that this shady game she knows nothing about is a good idea and she is taken for the ride of her life.
I’m going to say now if you are over the age of 22, Nerve isn’t for you and you’ll probably end up hating teenagers more than you already do. The motivation for playing this game seems to be nothing more than pure vanity. It’s difficult on premise alone to feel bad for anyone because they all should know better. Nerve makes reference to the ‘Dark Web’ which is used by hackers and criminals to perform all sorts of twisted illegal activities that your mind can think of. A game that encourages dangerous acts that no one can trace or shut down and requires personal information to play should be a parade of red flags for everyone involved but again, kids being kids right? Vee meets a cute guy played by Dave Franco who is also a player. Together they team up and make a run to the finals in hopes to win a game that no one has ever won.
Nerve plays like a video game with the crazy goals people have to complete in order to achieve victory and just like a video game there are side missions. Vee is chased around the city by her two friends, one which has slept with every guy in town including her only crush making you wonder why they are even friends in the first place and her guy friend who hits the friend zone harder than a sack of dirt hits the pavement from 20 stories up. While one friend’s sole purpose is to be an unlikable slut, King Friendzone actually plays an important role, using his hacker buddy connections to access the Dark Web and expose the people who encourage crimes committed against players. Now you’re probably asking yourself, why doesn’t anyone call the cops? Because snitching putting you in the game’s “secret third category” of being a prisoner. Once you become a prisoner, the game accesses your personal life that you gave them full access to and forces you to play the game continuously against your will until you have successfully won the game.
The film concludes with Vee and Ian being forced to fight to the death in a battle to decide the game’s winner. A third player named Ty, who I thought looked like Macklemore if he survived the zombie apocalypse only to find out after the fact that he is played by another white rapper named Machine Gun Kelly, had been following our main characters randomly all night and becomes the catalyst in a staged coup against the game exposing all the anonymous watchers real identities and forcing the game to come to an end. The ending seems like it’s trying to make a statement on society and how internet culture and ruined us all. The problem is the dialogue is too ham-fisted for a premise this ridiculous to be taken seriously and comes off as more of an insult that something this dumb tries to make a social statement considering the characters are guilty of exactly of they is preaching against.
Nerve is simply poorly written and is aimed at an audience that is too young to call them out on it. Visually they are great set pieces that bring intriguing dilemmas for our characters but doesn’t have the smarts to pull off any angle they establish. Plot induced stupidity is the driving factor here and you can only play the naivety card so much until it begins to take you out of the realm of believability and enjoyment. The acting is very Mean Girls meets Mr. Robot. Emma Roberts doesn’t play the shy innocent teen well and Dave Franco has seen better acting in other films. The premise had the potential to be a great thriller under a better screenwriter. Sadly this film has too much to overcome in order to be competent. Nerve is a dumb teen action movie which doesn’t do anything to help the reputation of teens, New Yorkers, hackers, or society in general. The next time you try to make a statement on the world, don’t write a story that more insulting than the people you are trying to critique.
OFFICIAL RATING: *
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