Nerve is meant to strike a nerve with today’s younger generation who have grown up during days of social media and internet fandom. It’s a vibrant and boisterous film that has plenty going on around it, but doesn’t actually say much. In a constantly connected world, Nerve can’t help but feel detached.
Vee (Emma Roberts) has spent most of her high school life playing it safe and staying hidden behind her camera lens as the school’s photographer. That all changes when her friend Sydney (Emily Meade) introduces her to Nerve, an online reality game where Players can earn money from Watchers by doing increasingly dangerous missions and recording them through their phones. The more Watchers a Player has the higher they rise in the ranks and the more money they earn. Vee signs up as a Player to earn some money to go off to college, but she soon becomes entangled with fellow Player Ian (Dave Franco). As the danger of their missions increases, Vee soon discovers the dark secret at the heart of the online game, but by that time it’s too late for her to get out.
The main idea behind Nerve is interesting, but the film fails in its execution. The gimmick of the game quickly wanes, and we’re left with a shell of a movie that showcases the stupidity of kids these days. I found it funny when a montage of “fails” in the game was nothing more than popular videos of people getting injured from doing stupid stunts that were pulled from YouTube. It just goes to show how far some people will go just to increase their follower count or have a video go viral. Everything about Nerve, both the game and the film, is dumbed down to appeal to the most basic of audiences.
That being said, Nerve does look beautiful. There’s a neon glow to the entire film, like something out of a Nicolas Winding Refn film, and its electronic soundtrack is rather fitting as well. Even if the story isn’t entertaining, at least you’ll be visually engaged.
Nerve is all flash with no bang. It has the beginnings of an interesting story about the today’s technology and society’s obsession with internet fame, but can’t quite pull it off. Instead, it simply becomes engulfed by that very idea.