One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to film watching, is when you get a movie that has such an absolutely brilliant idea, you think “HOLY CRAP, why didn’t anyone else everything of this?!” but the execution is so basic and stupid that it ruins everything and you’re left thinking how much more amazing that movie would have been had say The Coen Brothers or Spike Jonez had that idea. Think the first Purge (annual day were all crime is illegal, including murder for 12 hours), The Condemned (Fugitives with life sentences, are sent to an island and the last person standing gets their freedom), Lights Out (Depression is the monster in this horror movie) and Click (a remote control that can function in real like, allowing you to pause, fast forward and rewind your life.). All of these were brilliant ideas, that were so poorly presented on screen. Nerve can now be added to that list.
In a time when Pokémon Go has pretty much revolutionized the way gaming will work form now on, allowing you to actually go out and digitally catch these creatures in the real world, and in an era where computer voyeurism is at an all time high. With virtually nothing being secret anymore, the concept of Nerve feels all to real. Nerve is a game, in which you can either play or watch, in which you the players are dared to do something for a select amount of money that the watchers bid on. It can be something as simple as kissing a stranger to something extremely dangerous like hanging off a crane way up in the sky.
This is a brilliant idea that, like I mentioned, isn’t to hard to imagine our world coming to. I mean, we already kinda see this level of stupidity from some, as they try to become YouTube stars, all while putting the innocent lives of many strangers at risk. Nerve almost is a head of its time in its idea.
However instead of having something to say about all of this, Nerve turns into a crappy romance story and takes its game play aspect so far to the extreme it actually becomes laughable. The scene in which all the players who have bailed out or dropped out are in an abandoned yard, hooting and hollering and cheer for what the human cock fight that is about to take place, is so laughable and awful, it makes you think how did this script get so far off track.
The two lovers in question are Vee (Emma Roberts) and Ian (Dave Franco) who meet each other while playing the game. Vee is seen as a bit of a loser, compared to her best friend Sydney (Emily Meade), a wild child free spirit who is very in deep into Nerve herself. Vee’s best friend Tommy (Miles Heizer), who is clearly in love with her, tries to convince her that both Nerve and Ian are no good, but Vee is already falling for Ian and its to late.
That is another issue with the movie. The characters, other than Tommy are all kinda really unlikable. I find it hard to feel sorry for Vee when the boy she likes says she isn’t his style, when she is totally blowing off a perfectly great guy in Tommy who clearly has her best interests in mind. Or Sydney who comes off like a whiny spoiled cheerleader brat. Ian is a bit to shady to really take lightly, though his character arc does present some interesting twists.
There is no doubt in my mind that given to the right director a concept like Nerve could be something really excellent. Instead we are left with this silly little miss. Nerve does bring up an excellent and scary point of view, as to which way our society is heading, but it doesn’t bother to add anything to the debate. Ultimately the movie will just get on your last nerve.