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Random Review: Nerve

A pop culture addict who loves to talk about movies, music, books, comics, and all of the other things that move and entertain us.

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It seems like every third movie that comes out these days deals with the impact of social media on our lives. Some do it better than others. Some are just completely ham handed. Nerve, starring Emma Roberts and Dave Franco, unfortunately falls closer to that second category.

Emma Roberts stars as Vee, a timid girl who is afraid to even tell her mother that she wants to go to a college in another state. When her friend tries to help her by talking to her crush, and ends up humiliating her instead, it becomes a turning point for Vee. That is when she decides to sign up for Nerve. Nerve is an online game, sort of, where there are players and watchers. Players take dares from watchers, and get rewards. Vee is dared to go to a diner and kiss a stranger. That is how she meets Dave Franco's Ian.

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Ian and Vee end up teaming up, partly through their attraction to each other and partly because the watchers want it. In a matter of a few hours Vee gains enough confidence to do things she would never have done before, and even confronts her best friend Sydney for keeping her in her proverbial shadow all these years. Vees ranking in the game is climbing, but she soon discovers a sinister side.

It turns out that Ian had set her up for a fight with her friend. Her bank account gets emptied, she gets taken hostage by a player and blackmailed into finishing the game. Of course the new and improved Vee isn't going to take this lying down. She and her friends concoct a plan to take down the game without having to take out each other. There is a twist ending that's not much of a twist, but I still won't spoil it for you.

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The message of the movie is, like I mentioned earlier, completely unoriginal, but the actual plot isn't so bad. One thing that confused me is that it was made to seem that there was no big bad, that everyone just had their darker impulses encouraged by being on this social media platform. However, when it is shown that Ian was sent to the diner to meet Vee and their whole friendship was planned by the watchers, I couldn't help but think that this showed an unbelievable amount of cunning, forethought, and planning by a random group of jerk-offs on the internet.

The movie also seemed to have a hard time building tension. Even the stand-off at the end didn't seem have me on the edge of my seat. The charisma of the leads helps you to be a little more invested in a movie that would otherwise be a complete bore. Samira Wiley, best known as Poussey in Orange Is the New Black, shows up as the leader of a group of hackers, and even if she isn't terribly convincing in the role I really like her so that was cool. The writing wasn't out of the park, but it wasn't completely awful either, with the exception of Juliette Lewis (playing Vee's mom) who is made to say ":You are the dumbest smart kids I've ever seen". I'm sure the writers thought this was super clever, but it just came off as corny, and really out of place since the kids she says it to haven't really done anything dumb.

At the end of the day, Nerve isn't a movie I would recommend going out of your way to see. But since it's on Netflix you really don't have to, and there are worse ways to kill an hour and a half.