A Lion’s Gate production, it doesn’t exactly comes as the surprise of the year that Nerve is a flatliner, solliciting more the lymphatic system than the nervous one. Depicting the dangerous addiction to popularity culture while being unable to say anything about it, the movie is based on the titular game of Dare or Die (in the game only OR IS IT?), given the existence of a Big Brother monitoring the Internet for the benefit of idle, bored, jaded American youth. Yes, it’s the Dark Web again. The 50s Soviets, the 60s atom, the 70s toxic spill, the 80s slasher, the 90s serial killer : Evil.
Vee (Emma Roberts, short for Venus in more than one way) is the good girl on call who gets entangled in Nerve’s playful perils. Her first dare is to meet-cute another player, Ian (Dave Franco, he of the Cruisesque grin), and kiss him. On the mouth. So risqué. Considering Miss Roberts and Mr Franco’s respective physique, it is allowed to muse who wouldn’t kiss either, or both. But that’s only the amuse-bouche, pardon the pun.
What follows comes straight from the Jackass canon, embodied by a brainless tattooed guy played by someone named Machine Gun Kelly (here credited as Colson Baker for some reason) and, less likely, Juliette Lewis, paying for the errors of her reckless youth by playing Helpless Suburban Mom. For a movie based on countless timers, the writers go all apocryphal Einstein, switching from the gas pedal to the brake according to convenience, to the point there’s not much to feel tense about.
What’s to say about a movie which end credits display a total unability to choose a style and stick to it? Visuals are competent. Soundtrack is good. Emma Roberts asserts her limited range with vivacity and she looks perky in a stolen 8K$ dress. Dave Franco does the same grinning in underwear. Oh look, there’s a drone! One can do rap moves while having his arm tattooed when one is cool. Lady Liberty is not aging gracefully as a symbol.
Girl meets boy and that’s quite about it. Discouraging honest reviewing by its sheer imbecility, Nerve won’t make you test the edge of your seat. More likely, this vaguely pleasant airhead of a movie will make you wonder why you never got, well, the nerve to get out of the store with that unpaid for dress or bag, since it looks and feels so easy to pull it off in movies like this one or Suicide Squad. Case dismissed.