There have been a number of winning combination over the years: Mac and Cheese, Ron and Hermione and David Hassellhoff and those red shorts, but can Emma Roberts and Dave Franco emulate the successes of the double acts before them? Can they produce a performance worthy of victory? And can they interpret this increasingly used premise in a way that seems both new and interesting?
Round 1 – Plot
Based on the Novel of the same name by Jeanne Ryan, Nerve is the story of attention hungry young adults willingly fulfilling increasingly adventurous and dangerous dares chosen by people known only to the viewer as Watchers.
In terms of the overall premise, the concept of people becoming ever reliant on the overbearing technological age we live in is starting to wear thin. Yes we all spend too long on our phones, and it only takes one fool to start the latest viral sensation for the internet to figuratively explode with excitement. However it is the human element to this story that interests me the most. The fact that this story believes we as a society would idly stand by and watch these helpless people enact our wildest desires is probably the most chilling part of the story.
Much like The Shining (I know it’s a jump but trust me), Nerve is an inspection on the human capacity to embrace true evil. Instead of Jack Torrance wildly turning on his unfortunate family, we see eager fame-hungry youths so caught up in what they believe to be acceptable that they fail to realise the truth behind the story.
Yeah the final act is preachy, and the conclusion is predictable, but in terms of tension, anxiety and invention, Nerve manages to create something fairly enjoyable to watch.
ROUND 1 SCORE: 7/10
Round 2 – Characters
Emma Roberts plays Venus, a socially awkward photographer that is crawling through her final weeks of high school to fulfil the wishes of her mother (Juliette Lewis) by accepting the offer of a University in California.
Dave Franco plays Ian, a troubled soul that has unfortunately bit off more than he can chew while playing Nerve, meaning that he must bend to the wills of the watchers and complete a number of highly questionable situations.
Individually Roberts and Franco don’t seem to make any difference to the story. However combined, they manage to carry the viewer across the epic landscapes of New York City for a highly masochistic series of watcher determined Dares. This combination manages to provide depth to the performance and relatability to the consequences they suffer.
I’ll admit there are flaws, and that both characters are not as richly developed as maybe required, but there is plenty on show to give a casual fan the chance to enjoy the ride for what it is.
Before I move on I must mention the heart-warming if not highly frustrating reappearance of Kimiko Glenn and Samira Wiley. Although they don’t spend any time on screen together, it was nice to watch them as part of the same story one last time, it somehow managed to be more enjoyable even though it had absolutely nothing to do with Orange is the New Black.
ROUND 2 SCORE: 6/10
ROUND 3 – Overall Enjoyment
During brief moments, Nerve is a highly entertaining film. From the moment Roberts’ character decides to climb about Feanco’s motorbike the levels begin to increase. It becomes a bit predictable at times, and the conflict does seem a little forced at times. However overall, Nerve managed to make for a very enjoyable experience.
ROUND 3 SCORE: 7/10
Although this was not a clean sweep, Nerve is surely a better film that critics give it credit for. The choice of actors is solid, and the stakes do come across as vitally important to all those concerned. Yes it lacks natural development, and yes the 3rd act seemed to be a bit too coincidental for my liking. However that aside, Nerve is without doubt worth a watch, just so that you can discuss with the person accompanying you what you would do if you were in their situation
FINAL SCORE: NERVE WINS 19/30