It’s time to look at a film where the entire premise only works if you’re one of the corrupted members of today’s youth. It’s a classic game of chicken where the main characters want to be the victors. The film’s definitely not good at all, but I have to admit that it is fairly realistic. Maybe not in how the idea is implemented, but I can totally picture a lot of people playing this game if it ever came out. It’s something that people just wouldn’t be able to resist.
The film follows a girl named Vee. She is usually pretty mild mannered and timid. While her friends go out drinking and doing a lot of wild things, Vee likes to keep it real and just be a nice person. How long does that last? Not long at all. See, there’s this new game called Nerve. Essentially, you give this very shady app access to your phone and GPS location along with the ability for them to access your bank account and do all kinds of things in your name. The up side is that you can win a lot of dollars. There are two modes to Nerve, Watch and Play. Watch means that you’ll be paying them a large monthly fee, but you’ll get to take a look at people’s private lives when they stream themselves doing the dares. They are the players. So, how does playing the game work? It’s all about how much nerve you have.
Nerve will tell you to do something and there will be a reward for it. One might say to go drink a bottle of beer for 10 dollars. Another might say to vandalize a Police Car for 500. The amounts continue to get higher, but the risks increase as well and the person who does the best can become a millionaire. All of the teenagers are into it and the ones who don’t have enough nerve to play content themselves with watching instead. After Vee is embarrassed in front of the local sports hero, she decides to join the game. She wants to be one of the cool kids and if that means embarrassing herself in front of millions of people, breaking the law, and sacrificing her morals…that’s a small price to pay for getting her 5 minutes of fame and fake friends. Vee quickly starts to rise to the top of the charts, but a shady fellow shows up to start teaming up with her and this game may have higher stakes than Vee ever thought possible.
So…where to begin. The Nerve game isn’t properly explained as you’re not totally sure who is doing the dares. For example, in one scene, Vee’s friends are able to create a dare for her on the spot. Can anyone just create a dare? That would be bad for the company since they would lose a lot of money on easy dares. It seems like a lot of ordinary citizens actually work for Nerve, but how did they get in on the loop? How did nobody find out about this and are we really supposed to believe that none of the adults know what’s happening? The ending was a clever way to end the game for good since it’ll never get quite as popular again, but you will have quite a few questions as the film goes on. This isn’t one of those films where the writing is so sharp that all of your questions will be answered.
Next, the film only works because all of the characters are so unlikable. If Vee was even a semi decent main character, she never would have gotten involved with this in the first place. Accepting a dare to kiss a random stranger is already a super suspect challenge and that was one of the first ones that Vee did. Breaking the speed limit and driving blind were also ones where you have to shake your head. Not only did Vee only complete that last challenge through plot hax, but you’d just hope that someone with common sense wouldn’t accept the task.
Again, there’s also the security aspect of it all. If someone can just throw money into your bank account, aren’t you going to be a little worried about them just taking it back later? The film’s a good public service announcement to all users about why you shouldn’t download strange apps and then attach your bank account to it. It was cool to visually see how it took all of her info though. Search Engines and Social Networks do it all the time and that’s basically how I picture it.
Lets take a break from the bashing to look at Nerve’s main theme. These films typically don’t have much of a soundtrack so it was cool to see this film have such a solid tune. Even the tagline “Snitches get stitches” was fairly catchy. The scenery was also good since the heroes were usually at or around big cities and those always look good at night. My recommendation to all films is to take place in NYC, it makes the whole thing cooler.
Back to bashing. Vee’s plan may have been clever, but it made no sense anyway. I don’t see how she could have made her plan and then told the necessary parties about it in time. Throw in the fact that she also had to get past the observers and everything and this plan was simply too unreal. It was also very convenient for Vee’s best friend Tommy to be a super hacker who knew a big group of hackers who helped to save the day. The one thing that could stop the game was a hacker after all.
Tommy was all right, but you can’t help but feel like he’s losing out here. He could be at home having fun, but instead he’s just following Vee around everywhere. She even ditches him at one point so he has to download the game before tracking her down. He’s the nice guy, but it also means that everyone walks all over him. Sydney is Vee’s other friend and she definitely doesn’t seem to have the main character’s best interests at heart. She just wants to be the most popular streamer and tries to sabotage Vee’s efforts when possible. Putting her friend on the spot while she was just trying to relax at the local pizza joint was definitely not a move that you’d expect your “friend” to make. I couldn’t sympathize with Sydney and the toxic relationship that she had with Vee was pretty bad both ways. Vee also made sure to slam Sydney live in front of millions. The film tries to act as if she didn’t realize it, but she’s playing the game…everything is on stream.
Ian is the main guy in the film and he’s certainly not going to do the film any wonders either. He wants to win at all costs and that means that he needs to encourage Vee to put her life on the line and go down the dark path. He acts as the main bad influence on Vee and he has great success with corrupting her. She doesn’t really put up any resistance since she always wanted to surpass Sydney in something and this was her chance. Ian gets a sob story to try and win you over, but I wasn’t really buying it. The guy was just annoying and unlikable the whole time.
Nerve’s just one of those films that’s not really well made. The film even resorts to using fanservice as one dare involves the main characters running around in a fancy clothing store in their underwear. It makes you wonder how far people will go for money and I like to think that the security in the store should have been able to stop them. At a place this fancy, they must have guards right? Don’t expect the cops to help all that much otherwise though since they don’t dare mess with the game. While my initial hunch about one of the cops being an undercover agent never panned out, they may as well be. They don’t believe that the game exists so they don’t feel obligated to do anything about it.
Overall, This film had a lot of potential since the idea is interesting, but it just couldn’t pull it off. Its underlying message about how people will be a lot bolder and do things that they usually wouldn’t once they have the cover of anonymity is a topic that Sword Art Online tackled more effectively. Since the characters were all pretty unlikable anyway, it’s not as if the game made them that much worse. You’ll be left with a lot of questions about the game as well and the plot convenience is certainly a bit much. If you want a similar kind of conspiracy group shaping things in the background, you should read the Liar Game manga. I can’t really think of a film that’s similar to this one, so just watch the second Tron film. It has cool music like the Nerve theme throughout the film so that’s definitely one that you should check out.