Thursday Night Movie Club
Nerve
star rating graphicstar rating graphic½
Release Date: 27 July 2016

Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
ACTORS:
Emma Roberts
Dave Franco
Emily Meade
Miles Heizer
Kimiko Glenn
Marc John Jefferies
Machine Gun Kelly
Brian 'Sene' Marc
Ed Squires
Rightor Doyle
Josh Ostrovsky
Eric D'Alessandro
Samira Wiley
Albert Sidoine
Chris Breslin
Juliette Lewis
CHARACTERS:
Vee
Ian
Sydney
Tommy
Liv
Wes
Ty
J.P.
Chuck
Bergdorf Salesman
Dirt Beard
Hype Boi
Hacker Kween
Clarence
Bergdorf Security Guard
Nancy
Nerve movie poster Nerve movie poster Nerve movie poster
Nerve is a very good, suspenseful, nerve-racking film that falls short of being a really good film. There are a few gaping plot holes in the story. There is also a side story that is a little too convenient. Nerve has a fascinating story filled with several ingenious plot twists.

Nerve is a movie about social media gone horribly wrong. Members can choose either Player or Watcher. Players are given a series of Dares. Complete the dare and the player's account is automatically updated with the monetary amount of the dare. The catch: Dares must be recorded on the player's cell phone. If you fail or bail out on a dare, the player forfeits all the money they collected. A player can elect to leave the game after a dare is completed and keep their winnings. No one can snitch on Nerve to the authorities or it will end badly. This last part is rather vague. Players compete to become the Nerve Champion.

Venus "Vee" Delmonico (Emma Roberts) is a high school senior living on Staten Island. Vee takes photos for her high school yearbook. Her friend Sydney (Emily Meade) tells her about Nerve. Nerve would be a way for Vee to make some money to go away to college.

At the high school's pep rally, Sydney suddenly hands her phone to Liv (Kimiko Glenn). Sydney runs on to the field, joins the cheer leading squad and promptly moons the crowd. Sydney's dare is complete. Sydney is happy. Everyone else is stunned!

Vee signs up as a Player and warning bells should be raging in her head. No disclaimer of any kind pops up on her computer screen. There is nothing stating Nerve is not liable for any injuries sustained while playing the game. No offical contract is signed. There is no additional confirmation button asking whether the Player is absolutely certain they wish to proceed. This ia a very clever and subtle plot twist setting up future suspense, mystery and intrigue.

Dave Franco and Emma Roberts star in NerveVee is given her first dare. Vee must kiss a complete strange for 5 seconds to win $100. Vee enlists the aid of her friend Tommy (Miles Heizer) to record her dare. At a diner, Vee spots Ian (Dave Franco), who happens to be reading Vee's favorite book, "To The Lighthouse" by Virginia Woolf. What are the odds? She kisses Ian thus completing her dare. Ian suddenly breaks out in song giving a grand performance to the stunned patrons of the diner. Ian is also a player on Nerve and he just completed his dare. How many other complete strangers are also Nerve players?

Complications arise for Vee on her next dare. She must accompany Ian into New York. Is Vee really contemplating going into the city with a complete stranger to do who knows what? Nerve is all innocent fun so Vee leaves with Ian.

Next comes the first plot twist in Nerve. Tommy is shocked Vee would leave with a complete stranger. He is suspicious. He begins investigating Nerve and comes across a group of hackers hell-bent on taking Nerve down. What Tommy learns is frightening.

Vee and Ian arrive safely in the city. Vee has completed her second dare. When her winnings are automatically deposited into her checking account, Nerve reaches the second plot twist. Vee's mother Nancy (Juliette Lewis) receives text messages regarding these deposits to their joint bank account. Someone with unauthorized access is making unauthorized deposits. Vee ignores Nancy's phone calls. Vee is unaware this is happening. When she signed up with Nerve, Vee did not give out her personal information. Someone is collecting her personal information without her knowledge.

Dave Franco and Emma Roberts stars in NerveNerve quickly hits the next plot twist. Vee and Ian are both dared to go into a high-end fashion boutique and try on clothes they cannot possibly afford. Vee takes the dress suggested in the dare into the dressing room. She removes her clothes and dons the dress. She leaves the dressing room to see what she looks like wearing the dress. The dare is complete!

When she returns to the dressing room, her clothes and purse are gone. Vee receives her next dare: Leave the store. Ian faces the same dilemma.

The game of Nerve has changed! Someone, the Watchers perhaps, are changing the dare while the dare is still active. Do Vee and Ian steal the clothes or do they exit the store wearing only their underwear? They aren't criminals so they leave the store as unobtrusively as possible. Once outside, Vee and Ian find their clothes inside paper bags next to Ian's motorcycle along with the clothes they just tried on. The dare is complete.

Emma Roberts and Dave Franco in NerveThis is still innocent fun, right? Wrong! As the dollar values of the dares increase, so do the dangers. They are dared to ride Ian's motorcycle at 70 mph in the city. But, Ian must drive the motorcycle blindfolded. Vee must give him verbal directions. Nerve is getting dangerous.

Meanwhile, unbeknown to Vee, Sydney is watching Vee while at a party. She is watching Vee through an internet connection. Sydney is leading the game but she is annoyed Vee is catching up to her. Sydney is dared to walk across a ladder hung between the building she is in and the one next door. Problem is, Syd is on the fourth floor and she is drunk. Attendees at the party urge her on. Are there watchers at the party? The questions keep piling up.

Watchers follow Vee and Ian in NerveThe game of Nerve gets ugly. Vee and Ian arrive at the same party. Vee confronts Sydney. Ian injects himself into their discussion leading the two friends to begin a verbal fight. Ian checks his phone. He has just completed his dare to get the two friends to turn on each other. Vee is shocked at Ian's behavior. Bottom line: In the game of Nerve, who can be trusted. Where does reality turn into a dare. What is real and what is the game. This element is the ingenuity of the Nerve screenplay.

The next plot twist is rather obvious but leads to additional clever plot twists. This also opens the door to the gaping holes in the story. After Syndey nearly falls off the ladder, Vee has had enough. The game has gone way too far. Vee locates a police officer and tells him about Nerve and that people are going to get hurt or killed. The officer shrugs her off.

Still photo in NerveThe plot twist is that Vee has committed the cardinal sin of snitching on Nerve. The officer's nonchalance is the problem. Are the police in on the take from the Nerve organizers? If so, are the firefighters, politicians, and news reporters on the take? How can Nerve exist without the authorities immediately shutting it down? Who are the organizers of Nerve?

These questions get stranger as Ian's past becomes known. While competing in a Nerve competition in Seattle, he and another player are dared to hang from a construction crane by one hand for 30 seconds. The other player falls to his death. There is no investigation into this. Nothing about this incident reaches the news media. What happened to the body. Was Ian dared to hide the body? How about criminal trespass on private property? How about reckless endangerment by the Nerve organizers? The list grows exponentially!

Miles Heizer and Emma Roberts star in NerveThese questions become ridiculous during the finale. The last two competitors are given their final challenge in front of hundreds of live onlookers, supposedly on Liberty Island. The scene does take place on an island in New York harbor. The only access is by boat. The Nerve finale comes complete with rotating neon signs for "Nerve" along with a DJ and blaring music. Where is the police raid shutting this down. Where is the Coast Guard? They are trespassing on a historic landmark at night which makes the event clearly visible for miles around to the denizens of New York City!

Can it get any worse? Yes. The final dare has one player shooting another player. While this dare flies well passed the border of insanity, it poses an interesting question. Is the gun loaded?

On a purely personal view, I would have changed the ending. Instead of shooting the other player, Vee grabs one of the onlookers out to the middle of the staging area, points the gun at the guy's head and yells, "For $10 million, I will pull the trigger." While the onlookers scream for Vee to pull the trigger, the hapless sap desperately pleads for mercy. Cut to black!

Ruining the finale of Nerve further are the group of hackers trying to shut down Nerve. These nerds are so good they break into the Nerve internet servers undetected, tag every Watchers computer I.P. address and accuse them of aiding and abetting in a whole slew of crimes. What idiot set up the security for the Nerve organizers? Why don't the hackers just call the police? The players and watchers simply delete their Nerve accounts. Huh? Better still, the hackers fill Vee's bank account with all the winnings she forfeited when she snitched. These guys are good! Vee and Ian live happily ever after.

Emma Roberts stars as Vee in NerveEmma Roberts as Vee is a true delight in Nerve. Vee is shy and reserved. She is comfortable behind the camera rather than being in front of the camera. Vee is happy just going through her mundane life, never taking risks. Nerve gives her the opportunity to break out of her shell.

Roberts shows Vee's indecision when contemplating clicking on the Nerve button for Player or Watcher. The scene proceeds slowly with images of the two button superimposed over her face. The dares force Vee to do things she would never have done on her own. Roberts is very effective portraying Vee's maturation period over just a few hours playing Nerve. Vee is a much stronger individual at the end. She can take care of herself.

Emma Roberts stars as Vee in NerveDirectors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman employ a clever visual device to their story telling. Live computer screen imagees are superimposed over the live action. Vee's dares are shown as a superimposition rather than a shot of her phone's screen. Interactive maps show the locations of all the players and their number of followers. This is another example of how the players are being tracked without their knowledge. Live streaming and computer interactivity gone wild!

Nerve is a very suspenseful film that effectively blurs the lines between reality and what is just part of the game. Does Ian befriend Vee and eventually fall in love with her because it was a dare? When Nerve focuses on these types of questions, the film is very good. Unfortunately, in an effort to add additional suspense and intrigue, the film opens the flood gates of disbelief.