This is probably the closest you’re gonna get to Hackers in 2016.
Nerve isn’t actually about hacking, but there is hacking involved and it is incredibly silly with a very loose relation to reality. Within the movie Nerve is an app based game where viewers vote to determine what real life challenges the players have to undertake and stream using their phone. The movie hilariously describe the game itself as truth or dare without the truth. Completing challenges also rewards you with large sums of money sent directly to your bank account, although if you refuse or fail a challenge you also forfeit everything you’ve won. The goal is get the most viewers and be the last one standing.
Our heroine is Vee (Played by Emma Roberts) who’s too scared to tell her mother she’s been accepted to Cal Arts even though it’s become the last day to accept the admission. Her mother wants her to attend a local, more affordable college and continue to live at home. Vee has a friend Sydney (Emily Meade) who has been playing Nerve and tries to push Vee to be more assertive. She does this by walking up to the boy Vee has a crush on and confessing to him for her. (Not really sure how that is supposed to work at all honestly) The dude rejects the interest and Vee understandably flees out of embarrassment. However, Sydney’s words stick with her and she decided to become a player in Nerve.
Another part of the Nerve game that’s established is that once you join all of your personal information is pulled off of your various social media accounts and used to help form the dares. So when Vee gets a challenge to kiss a random stranger there happens to be a boy near her reading her favorite book that she’s naturally draw towards. This turns out to be Dave Franco, another player in the game named Ian. The watchers basically start to ship Vee and Ian and so much of the movie follows the two of them being together and succeeding at the game together.
So, there’s the high school drama tension with Sydney becoming jealous of Vee as her viewer count rises. The question of who this Ian dude even is. And the inherent sketchiness of the entire game as the challenges ramp up. There are twists and turns I’m not gonna touch because seeing that stuff is a big part of the fun of this movie; just be aware the movie goes places.
It’s honestly all pretty dumb (And even gets incredibly over the top stupid) beyond the neat premise, but that’s fine because the movie is fun and the characters are engaging if not likeable. I actually found the cattiness of the girls a little too much; there are some arguments no one walks away from looking good. The movie takes place in New York and the way it uses that is sometimes effective and sometimes laughable. It’s inconsistent in bizarre ways. [Although it was actually filmed in New York so it succeeds in simple ways the recent Ghostbusters failed.] The climax is so over the top and stupid; involving hacking, guns, and an arena of masked watchers with life and death stakes… I can’t help but love it.
Nerve is a fun premise and it goes over the top with it in a way that’s endearing; cringey at times but fun all the way through. I had a good time with this one.