Resonant thriller about the danger of online gaming which squanders its promise on a silly, obvious ending
With the Pokemon Go craze sweeping the world, this fast-paced and incredibly silly cyber-thriller from the makers of Catfish truly plugs into the zeitgeist. Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman bring a fiery energy to Jessica Sharzer's adaptation of Jeanne Ryan's cliché-ridden YA novel, which tells of two star-crossed lovers playing an online augmented reality game of dares, soaking their characters in neon lights and transporting them to dazzling and dangerous locations across New York City.
Emma Roberts and Dave Franco star as Vee and Ian, two teenagers engaged in a game that gifts them cash for carrying out increasingly hazardous tasks ranging from getting a tattoo to dangling off tall buildings. They share a great chemistry and their cheesy romantic yarn mingles with the action to deliver a mixture of cringe-inducing tomfoolery and tension. Roberts gets to show off her rapping skills with a rendition of a Wu-Tang Clan song and drive around on a motorcycle hugging her co-star like she's auditioning for a remake of Mannequin.
Her shy and introspective Vee is persuaded to join in the game by her outgoing best friend Sidney (Emily Meade) and, as she begins to get a buzz from the fame it brings, she starts to question their friendship. This plotline is particularly ugly, doling out backwards gender politics about the reasons teenage girls partner up with boys, and the faux psychology is an unwelcome and embarrassing addition to the otherwise entertaining thrills which peter out as Nerve reaches its obvious conclusion.
The film tests the moral fibre of the characters like a less sophisticated version of David Fincher's The Game and the pairing up of players along with the competitive element recalls The Hunger Games. Its clumsy cautionary message about the dangers of sharing online data unfortunately comes across as rather preachy.
Wide release from Thurs 11 Aug.