Reviewer: Zep the Bear
A high school senior, Venus “Vee” Delmonico (Emma Roberts), becomes involved in an online game in which players complete viewer-suggested dares around New York City in return for money. She soon links up with another player, “Ian” (Dave Franco), and the game quickly takes a dark turn.
Who Watches the Watchers?
This is not a perfect film.There are issues involving believability subtlety. That being said, I think it’s fun and I enjoyed it.
Even though the picture culminates by clobbering viewers over the head with a message of personal responsibility, I still like that the theme is explored.
As the film progresses, the dares get wilder and more dangerous for Vee and Ian. They are suggested and voted on by the viewers. Because users are anonymous, there is no attachment to the consequences. The more outrageous and compelling, the better.
To paraphrase Rick James, “Online anonymity is a helluva drug.” The freedom to say whatever you want is equal parts intoxicating and toxic. Just visit the comment sections on a website like YouTube. People are petty and vicious. It is disheartening to the point of being disturbing.
I think, hope, that as society works through its issues in regards to race and sexuality, that maybe someday people will grow to see the importance and value in policing themselves online.
New York State of Mind
New York City is a key ingredient to the tone of the film. Shot there between April and June of 2015, the city adds a flavor and energy to its high-octane vibe of the picture.
I’ve visited NYC. It crackles and shimmers. You can feel it when you walk the streets. That atmosphere translated to this picture.
There are wide pull away shots that feature the city. They consume the scene. The relationship between Ian and Vee is sexy and full of possibilities. The background of the city reinforces the fantasy aspect of their relationship.
While Emma Roberts is adorable and delivers a terrific performance, I want to take a moment to address the performance of Cleveland rapper-turned-actor Colson “Machine Gun Kelly” Baker.
After early success in the music industry, “MGK” has found a second career in Hollywood. Most recently, he has secured a recurring role on the Showtime series, Roadies, in which he is superb. He also has a key role in the soon-to-be-released, The Land.
In Nerve, Colson plays a competing player named, “Ty.” He plays the foil to Franco’s character. The demeanor of Ty seems modeled after one of the gang members from the Walter Hill classic, The Warriors. He is a key participant in the finale of the picture.
I gotta compliment MGK the Actor. He clearly has a knack for it, but my gut tells me that he is a hard worker as well. He has a charm and emotive range that are surprising. Plus, he has been very smart about the roles he has chosen. Give him a little time and, heck, who knows?
I enjoyed this film.
Roberts and Franco have great chemistry.
The dares are a bit far-fetched at times, but they work in the context of the story. (There is one scene involving a stunt with a ladder that is a genuine nail-biter.)
The directors do a good job representing the online elements of the movie. They feel modern and realistic.
If one visits the film’s Twitter account, it is clear that the film plays huge with teen girls. It is contemporary and relatable.
It is also a great date movie. It has a whirlwind fantasy vibe that would make a fun Saturday night for a young couple.