Nerve, the late-summer flick starring Emma Roberts and Dave Franco hits the nail on the head when it comes to tech thrillers. Set in present day New York City, the film trails introverted high-school photographer Venus “Vee” Delmonico (Emma Roberts), who wants to attend Cal Arts after a life lived in Staten Island. Living with her single mother (Juliette Lewis), Vee is helping to make ends meet after the death of her older brother. She hangs out with a typical high school movie crew – the wild one (Emily Meade), the nerdy dude (Miles Heizer), and the nice girl (Kimiko Glenn), but lives a thoroughly predictable life, until she’s drawn into Nerve.
The game is straightforward – complete user submitted dares and get cash in your bank account. You’re a watcher (submitting dares) or you’re a player (doing them). You make your choice and live with the consequences. You can probably see how this could go wrong. The movie takes a couple of interesting twists and turns after Vee meets Ian (Dave Franco), a mysterious Nerve player who provokes her wild side and urges her to play the game.
Nerve‘s story is moderately predictable, there really isn’t a song in it that hasn’t been sung before, but the development of the characters is perfectly interesting, and the cinematography is bold, bright, and inviting. Roberts brings life into Vee, creating an emotional, multi-faceted character who has clear motivators & a relatable personality. Franco shines in his own ways, bringing dimension to a bad-boy character we’ve all seen before.
The supporting characters shine too. Tommy (Miles Heizer), Vee’s hacker-boy BFF who is totally in love with her, brings the audience into the film through funny dialogue. He pretty much says out loud what the audience is thinking. Machine Gun Kelly also appears as Ty – a Nerve player who refuses to lose, and it’s an unexpected, but awesome, cameo.
The thing that rocks about Nerve is that female characters are constantly slaying the people around them. Vee and wild-child Sydney (Emily Meade) are totally badass throughout the game, and they’re not even taking down other girls (for the most part). Samira Wiley (yes, Poussey from Orange Is The New Black) also plays a brilliant female hacker – literally named Hacker Kween, who runs New York’s largest underground hacking ring – feminist AF. Not to mention Vee’s single mother, who is shown working full time as a nurse to save up for Vee’s impending college tuition. Basically, the ladies in this movie are amazing, supportive of one another, and smart – something you don’t often see in summer teen flicks.
The thing that rocks about Nerve is that female characters are constantly slaying the people around them.
We also get a super realistic representation of the internet. Nerve players gather an audience – one that can be rude, racist, and sexist, like many live-streamers on YouNow, Twitch, Facebook Live, and YouTube see everyday. We see comments flash across the screen as the characters play the game, we watch Periscope-like hearts flow from the users, and we see the usernames of the community players – all of which are really damn accurate (and hilarious). The depiction of the internet as a community is very real – and not as ominous as we see it portrayed on shows like Mr. Robot. The internet of Nerve is full of memes and trolls.
All in all, the ladies come out on top in this film, and Nerve is definitely a fun spin on something that could totally happen to our generation. The shots are colorful, and overall the film is one of the best teen thrillers I’ve seen. Do yourself a favor and check it out.