Nerve (July 2016)

I have a difficult question for moviegoers. How is it that a film starring an actor I decidedly do not like, a movie that practically has a pop album instead of a proper soundtrack, just earned the top spot as my favorite movie of the summer? How the hell did that happen?

The answer is deceptively simple. Nerve was the most entertaining movie I saw this summer because it was new. In short, it was the only film I saw that had (almost) 100% original content. (Yeah, I’m absolutely saying that they ripped off the screen effects from Unfriended and the masks from The Purge, and the whole thing had a very Hunger Gamesy vibe in general, but you know what? It worked.)

Nerve is creative. It’s funny, it’s romantic, it’s terrifying. Sometimes it’s all of these things at once. What’s more, it’s the only movie I’ve seen this summer that hasn’t been a sequel or a remake, so I was shocked by every twist and turn. But the biggest surprise? That I liked it at all. I went into that theater expecting to watch another poorly written teen movie that I could drag on my poorly written review blog. But Nerve really surprised me. It’s the kind of movie that grabs you and runs. Or more accurately, the kind that grabs you, sits you on a skateboard and ties you to the back of a moving vehicle.

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This isn’t to say that the movie didn’t have its faults. I didn’t particularly like Vee as a character (every protagonist and their cousin a shy yearbook photographer, honestly). However, I will admit that her style of photography was unique, and that it was kind of fun to see Emma Roberts in a less Regina George-like role for once. And while they did cram in a lot of popular music, with the plot surrounding high schoolers and the Internet, at least the soundtrack choices didn’t seem completely out of place.

I realize that I’m contradicting all of my negative comments by justifying the creative choices that prompted them, and I have a good reason for it: Nerve was an awesome movie. I related to Tommy, I was interested in Ty and his place in the plot, I liked that they kept us guessing about Ian. And I kid you not, when Samira Wiley came up on that screen as Hacker Kween, everyone in the theater gave a simultaneous gasp of happiness.

Another thing I liked about the film was its message, which probably stuck with a lot of the moviegoers in Nerve’s target audience. The story very clearly tells us that we should hold ourselves accountable for our own actions. Anonymity may protect us online, but it doesn’t absolve us of responsibility for what we say and do through the Internet. I like that Nerve doesn’t dance around its morals, nor does it repeatedly smack the audience in the face with them. It manages to hit the nail on the head without veering across the border to heavy-handedness.

Kudos to all. Your move, Suicide Squad.

GRADE: A

(EDIT: Nerve is the film adaptation of a novel of the same name. Doesn’t change my opinion of the movie, just thought it was worth mentioning.)

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