By Raj Chidambaram
Are you a player or a watcher? I was able to see a screening of “Nerve” last night, but before I do tell you my thoughts, I should educate you a little first, though. Here is the rough concept of the game Nerve: it lasts for 24 hours, I believe, and when you sign up, you can be a player or a watcher. If you are a watcher, you pay like twenty or twenty-five dollars and are given an anonymous username. You then can watch any of the players at any given time and the watcher community comes up with the dares that the players must then perform. The players on the other hand get paid to perform the dares. The goal of the players is to amass the highest number of watchers and the top two enter the finals. You lose your money under two conditions, you fail or you bail. The dare must be filmed via the player’s phone to count. Okay, let’s break this movie down.
This film struck me similar to “Gamer” from 2009. In that film there were two games where people controlled other people. Slayers, where death row inmates could be controlled and if they survived thirty battles, they would be set free. Also there was Society, where players could be pay to have full control over another human being who would be paid. There were similarities in plot points that I noticed between “Gamer” and “Nerve.”
Dave Franco and Emma Roberts star in this film. The acting was fine, the story was nothing spectacular, but the total package was entertaining. A couple of the dares were fun to watch, one made me laugh and the another was something quite dangerous but exciting to watch. The rest are nothing mind-boggling.
This film did highlight the anonymity of the internet, however. The Internet is not an anonymous platform, but it is sometimes thought of as one. The film illustrates this in a few ways on both ends of the spectrum. It illustrates that it is not an invisible platform when it creates the players profiles. The game knows exactly who you are from your online history such as social media and purchase history. The watchers then know exactly how to push the player to their limits. On the other end of the spectrum, Nerve while hacks into the lives of the players, gives the watchers anonymous identities; their usernames are all ANON followed by four random numbers. This theme is the center of the film and the highlight of the third act.
That being said I did enjoy the film. While the story was nothing amazing, the concept of the game was intriguing and the dares were fun to watch. I was able to accurately predict the final challenge as well as most of the secrets of the characters so this film didn’t do anything that was totally unexpected in that department, but it was all still entertaining. “Nerve” releases nationwide on July 27.