Review: ‘Nerve’ Is Fast Paced Fun In A Lackluster Package
“Nerve” lives up to its title without much substance beyond that.
Emma Roberts and Dave Franco team up for this “cellular” journey pushing them both to the edge. When an underground app called Nerve becomes a social sensation, users become either the players or the watchers. The watchers vote on dares that challenge the players to test their limits for monetary rewards. As the game becomes progressively more dangerous, Vee (Roberts) and Ian (Franco) must find their way out.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Plot, etc.) – 2.5
The film progresses just as the game does. When it comes to the big picture, there’s little that seems to develop. Instead the strength of the plot lies in the dares themselves like a series of snapshots. These little subplots had me reveling in each moment as my heart was racing from suspense. This was sustainable for the first and second act of the film but once the third act hit the path to closure was an arduous journey. With so much excitement leading up to a grand resolution, there’s a realization that there wasn’t a strong foundation for the overall story. This in turn resulted in a lackluster ending despite a fun experience along the way.
Much like the plot, the characters also peak in the third act. On the surface, Ian and Vee are intriguing on some level. Although, much of that intrigue comes from their outlandish antics throughout the game and the chemistry formed between them. Just like the users watching them play this game, I felt like I was getting to know them the same way. If this was intended, it was an admirable risk but unfortunately it didn’t pay off in deeply developing the characters. They were simple characters for a simple film which fit in the grand scheme of things but left a bit to be desired.
While the simplicity of the characters may be a product of the plot, I do have to acknowledge the strong chemistry between Emma Roberts and Dave Franco. The moments they shared created a true but fast-paced progression of their relationship. Each dare they shared was like a mini date filled with excitement.
In reference to that excitement, “Nerve” truly knew how to convey those thrills through visual aesthetics. The city was neon lit like they were living inside of a game. The game aspect was further supplemented by the integration of familiar social media type markers mapping out the city. This meshed together the real world with the game of Nerve in a unique way. In addition, the angle and perspective of each shot managed to capture the rush of the moment.
Overall, “Nerve” was flawed where it matters most in cinematics. Both the story and the character development are scattered and while it doesn’t hurt the fun, it does create a lack of substance. There is great chemistry between Emma Roberts and Dave Franco and the visuals supplement the excitement, but these strengths don’t outweigh the weaknesses.
Entertainment Value – 3.5
Despite its simplicity, “Nerve” is a lot of fun. It did not take long for me to become engaged in the film anxiously anticipating what the next dare would be. I think that general audiences will share that same excitement during the film. Emma Roberts and Dave Franco are also more than adequate when it comes to casting for these roles. They added to the fun with their chemistry and their performances and brought out the reactionary response that added suspense to the film.
The only entertainment flaw in this film would be the climactic turn in the second act. I would have probably bumped the Entertainment Value score up one point if the film would have kept the momentum going from dare to dare. Unfortunately there’s a pause to explore the underlying elements of the game and that stagnant period changes the pace negatively. In other words, for two-thirds of the film, I think you’ll have a blast!
Re-Watchability – 3
I can see the value in watching “Nerve” again and even enjoying it with friends. At the same time I don’t think this is a film that I would specifically seek out.
There’s a lot of fun to be had with this film and I think it could carry over into a second viewing. But while I would sit through this film a second or maybe a third time, I wouldn’t invest anymore money into a repeat viewing.
- Entertainment Value
"Nerve" lives up to its title with adrenaline filled moments of excitement. It's not going to impress in the realm of plot or character development but it's still a fun ride nonetheless.
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