Nerve (2016)

When Annie told me she had tickets to see Nerve early, I was pretty meh about the whole thing. I was a little nervous because it is marketed as a thriller, and my heart can’t always handle thrillers! But I love Dave Franco and Emma Roberts has solidified herself in my heart thanks to her meme-fame.

You know how this one starts, right?

I’ll try to keep this short and spoiler-free (although I will mention things that are in the trailer I include below), but I was pleasantly surprised by this movie and found it to be better than it was set up to be. (Also, if you are a fan of Orange Is the New Black, there are 2 recognizable inmates in this movie!)

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The premise of Nerve is that Venus “Vee” (Emma Roberts) is a quiet nerd who sets out to try to prove something by starting a game called, you guessed it, Nerve. You either pay to be a watcher or you earn money as a player. Watchers vote on dares for players to complete. Players earn money for each dare they complete, but if they fail or bail on a dare, they lose everything. It’s a bit of a silly premise, to be honest, and you’ll find yourself often thinking, “Why would anyone agree to do these terrible dares?!”

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Vee and one of her best friends Tommy, who pines for her but we don’t know if she notices or cares

I was confused about Juliette Lewis being in the movie as Vee’s mom, Nancy, but they managed to create a nice emotional foothold for Vee. You see, Vee’s older (more fun, more rambunctious) brother passed away 2 years before the events of the movie. It’s just Vee and her mom, struggling to get by in Staten Island. Vee has gotten into a great arts school in California at the beginning of the movie, but she can’t even imagine bringing the subject up to her mom, who wants to keep her in New York, where she has a scholarship and can still live at home. So when Nancy calls Vee, wondering why all of their money – which wasn’t much to begin with – is suddenly gone, you really feel for her. And you feel for this broken family, despite how little time we’ve spent with them.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Dave Franco deserves to be a leading man, and he really came through in this movie. I could hear a lot of fans in the theater whenever he charmed his way across the screen. He has such a great smile, but when he is sad, you feel sad, too. No one wants Dave Franco to be anything but happy.

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The audience members almost couldn’t believe he’d be charming AND have a bike.

What I really liked about this movie was that it’s not just about doing dumb dares for money and to prove a point. It’s also about things like cybersecurity (because Vee’s joint bank account with her mother gets hacked, as you see in the trailer), the Dark Web, the power that strangers with cameras in their pockets have in being able to record you whenever you’re out in public, mob mentality, the power and dangers of online anonymity. I walked out of the theater a little unsettled, because it’s not hard to fathom an app where anonymous people vote on dares for other people to complete, for people to get unwelcome recognition in the streets for their online exploits, for someone to take things to far and breach another person’s privacy.

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(Plus some of the dares were really gripping to watching. Laying on train tracks? Hanging from construction cranes? Accelerating on a motorcycle blindfolded? EEP!!!!)

Even the interpersonal conflicts in this movie, while fairly forced, felt pretty real. I only wish I got to see more Kimiko Glenn and Samira Wiley, since this movie really could’ve done more with PoCs. Also, they’re both so talented, I don’t think anyone would’ve complained about more screen time for the both of them.

I recommend checking it out; you might find yourself surprised. Do you think you’d be a player or a watcher? (Or neither?)

Nerve is in theaters July 27.

 

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