Have you got what it takes to play Nerve? Emma Roberts and Dave Franco play double dog dare with their phones on the streets of Manhattan.
Roberts plays Vee, a meek high school graduate caught at a crossroads. Whilst her best friend Sydney (Emily Meade) is out getting plastered and hitting on boys, Vee struggles to even make eye contact with her crush and isn't sure what she wants to do or where she wants to go after school finishes.
What starts out as something totally innocent soon spirals out of control as the dares become increasingly dangerous and potentially lethal. Trapped in the tight grip of the game, Vee and Ian must work together to bring it down from the inside - but how to you put a stop to something that can control your whole life?
It's a clever premise, and for the most part, Nerve is able to carry it off. The plot trots along at a merry pace and is filled to the brim with an eclectic array of pop tracks (including this absolute CHUNE) to appeal to its internet-obsessed target demo. The plot has a few strays hairs here and there, but then again this isn't Mr Robot - Nerve is more interested in putting attractive people in front of the camera and spinning a loose but still relevant yarn about the dangers of social media, peer pressure and mob mentality.
Roberts and Franco make a charming lead couple; the former is believable and sympathetic as the shy schoolkid breaking out of her shell. Franco's fifty-watt grin hides a secret that exposes the truth behind the game, and the actor does a good job of conveying this conflict later in the film.
On the whole, I liked Nerve. It's a serviceable, entertaining PG thriller for teens that wears its premise well. The third act is more than a little ludicrous (the writers sort of write themselves into this corner that they struggle to get out of) but hey, it's got a cool message propping it up and the cast are all pretty good so there isn't too much to complain about there.
The Verdict: 7/10
Nerve works best when it focuses on Roberts and Franco; their romance and the teen drama that surrounds them is compelling character stuff that carries an important message. The pseudo hacker stuff in the background isn't as convincing, making for a top heavy film that only just limps across the finish line.
Nerve is in cinemas across Australia now