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Nerve Movie Review

Reviewed by on Jul 27, 2016
Rating: 3 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw Nerve, a cool new film that presents a dangerous cellphone game based on truth or dare. How far would you go? Check out our movie review.

By: Lynn Barker

Withdrawn, studious high-school senior Vee (Emma Roberts) lives in the shadow of outgoing bestie Sydney (Emily Meade) who is racking up points and monetary rewards playing the “I dare you” online and in the streets game “Nerve”.  When Syd embarrasses her, Vee (short for Venus) decides to break out of her shell and maybe even win the game. How far do these dares go? Will Vee bail before it’s too late?

Vee takes on Syd's abandoned dareVee takes on Syd's abandoned dareCourtesy of Lionsgate

Vee and Sydney

Staten Island residents Vee and single Mom Nancy (Juliette Lewis) argue about her going off to Cal Arts to college. Vee’s older bro died semi-recently and Mom isn’t ready to let go. Vee is a good photographer but popular BFF Syd outshines her by gaining points, popularity and money as a “player” in the online/cellphone game “Nerve”. “Watchers” dare “Players” to do mostly embarrassing, semi-dangerous things to climb the levels to winner. When Sydney badly embarrasses Vee by telling a guy Vee likes that she is into him (she’s not his type), she decides that she can change her “type”. She becomes a “Player”.

Syd (center) and friends check for daresSyd (center) and friends check for daresCourtesy of Lionsgate

Popular Pair

Her first dare, “kiss a stranger” hooks her up with game veteran Ian (Dave Franco). The watchers like them as a pair and send them off to the city on various dares. Vee likes both the money and the excitement and.. uh hunky Ian too. As Vee and Ian’s popularity with the game grows, so do the level of dares and the money. Syd gets very jealous of her “friend” and takes on more and more dangerous dares to top her. Vee’s school friend and hacker Tommy (Miles Heizer) crushes on her and becomes a game watcher to keep a protective eye on her.

Ian in the streets with the WatchersIan in the streets with the WatchersCourtesy of Lionsgate

Another Player

Challenging Ian as the game moves toward the “finals” is tough-guy Ty (Machine Gun Kelly aka Richard Baker) who will seemingly stop at nothing to win. The dares escalate to more dangerous challenges for bigger money. Watchers send Vee and Ian to the same party where Syd has just bailed on a dangerous cross a ladder between two buildings dare. The girls argue about their relationship. Vee is sick of living in Syd’s shadow etc. Vee completes the dangerous dare and again rises in the ranks.

Vee and Ian fall in love in the cityVee and Ian fall in love in the cityCourtesy of Lionsgate

The Finals

Finally the game comes down to Ty vs. Ian and Vee, then just Ian vs. Vee. When she refuses a really awful dare, Vee becomes a game “Prisoner”, the hidden third group of players. Ian reveals that he has been a prisoner a long time. Will Tommy and his hacker pals be able to shut down the game before one of the players we know actually dies?

Vee (Emma Roberts) learns she's now a game PrisonerVee (Emma Roberts) learns she's now a game PrisonerCourtesy of Lionsgate

Wrapping Up

Based on the novel by Jeanne Ryan, Nerve is on the cutting edge of the new social media craze to get young people out and about rather than glued to screens in the house (Pokemon Go and the upcoming Matt Damon/Ban Affleck series “The Runner” are good examples). You can see how this game might actually work in real life…until the third act of the film just gets silly/illogical and falls apart. I could go into detail but there is too much to cover.

Tommy tries to keep up with Vee on his phoneTommy tries to keep up with Vee on his phoneCourtesy of Lionsgate

The film’s high energy and “fun” dares will keep you interested. There is some funny and trendy dialogue to make you chuckle as well. All young actors do good work and Emma Roberts and Dave Franco make a fun and very watchable pair. Juliette Lewis is underused as Vee’s concerned single mom, however.

Tommy and Sydney discuss the gameTommy and Sydney discuss the gameCourtesy of Lionsgate

The film is certainly a cautionary tale about fame obsession and how easy it is to be cruel to others if everybody is just known by their online “handle”….no responsibility for putting others in danger or dissing them for not doing something you, yourself wouldn’t do! Spoiler alert!  I was upset that although the “watchers” of the ultimately very dark and dangerous game are forced to abandon it, the creators (and there have to be some), never really get caught.

Vee (Emma Roberts) and mom (Juliette Lewis) discuss her futureVee (Emma Roberts) and mom (Juliette Lewis) discuss her futureCourtesy of Lionsgate

Overall, however, if you can ignore plot holes, illogical character behavior etc. you will probably really enjoy Nerve. We go three stars. 

Nerve Movie Rating: 3

Nerve Movie PosterNerve Movie PosterCourtesy of Lionsgate

Nerve is in theaters now!


Have Your Say

How into online or cellphone gaming are you? Would you be a watcher or a player if "Nerve" were real?  Leave a comment!