I’ll say it plainly: Strip away the hacking subplot, the dark web subplot, the pining nice guy best friend subplot, and the mom subplot from Nerve, and you’d end up with a better than pretty good movie. Add in real, visceral consequences, and you’d have an even better movie than that. Nerve is just too free of danger, especially given as it takes pains to highlight the ultimate danger of the game its title refers to; you could die if you play it, whether by falling from a construction crane or accidentally mimicking the title of a very good David Sedaris book.
That stuff all happens past tense and off screen, though, and the actual narrative is left sans teeth. Too bad. All of the stuff with Emma Roberts and Dave Franco is just delightful; they’re great together, and their scenes often flirt with that much-needed danger, even if there is never any payoff to it. Oh well. Just dig the ride, and get the full scoop by reading my review for Paste Magazine. You’re all pretty good at doing that, I think.