Reserved girl, Vee, is dared to take part in a game of dare (the Nerve of the title), gets paired with a mysterious, handsome stranger to complete dares until the stakes take a sinister turn as the stranger’s past is unravelled.
Based on the young adult book by Jeanne Ryan that takes on the subject of social media fame and the lengths people will go for attention, all wrapped up in a techno-thriller.
As it often the case in the youth-led genre, the plain girl, Vee, comes out of her shell having spent years of being ignored – Emma Stone would be the said plain girl. Dave Franco is the mysterious stranger, who may be called Ian, who Vee finds herself teamed up with.
Stone and Franco are a charming pairing – they’re both charismatic performers who overcome the imperfections of the script with talent over style. Add to this Machine Gun Kelly as another Nerve player and Juliette Lewis as Vee’s mother, and the cast can certainly be described as… varied.
“I have no idea what she’s doing.”
After the silly stunts of the first act, the film steps up the action without stepping up the substance. Vee finds herself competing against her “insta-fame” hungry best friend (played by Emily Meade) and the dangerous Ty (played by Machine Gun Kelly), being monitored by her clearly-in-love with her best friend (played by Miles Heizer), and falling for the mysterious Ian.
“Why are you playing Nerve?”
Nerve, the game within the film, relies on the adrenaline rush of the player, their willingness to take risks for the reward and the hedonism of the audience. With each risk, more is revealed about Vee and Ian, but friendship are shattered and emotions are brought to the surface. Social media, you see, isn’t a nice, or safe, place to exist.
The use of technology lends more to Hackers in its authenticity than it does to Sneakers, but it’s all very entertaining and progresses the story. Technology aside, the underlying story is familiar territory for the youth genre. The dares are the set pieces of Nerve and they definitely drive the story.
As a warning of the excesses of social media ridiculousness, it’s quite engaging, if flawed, especially as Vee and her friends try to take down the game whilst surviving “the final dare”. As thriller, there’s certainly far better, but there’s also much much worse.