Okay, so I have a few problems with Nerve.
How are the challenges decided? Pretty much all the movie says about it is that the watchers decide, but how? We never see where the watchers go to submit a challenge, or how it’s decided if it’ll go through or not. Do the watchers just vote on each challenge, or is there some Nerve council that has the final say? The film does its best to dodge the question of who actually runs Nerve, but the other option seems less feasible. There’s at least 100,000 watchers, from what I remember. Probably more. Is there any limit on how often they can submit dares, or when they vote, or what dares are accepted? It seems like a game that, at least in real life, would get sexual pretty fast without some kind of filters. It would stand to reason that the watchers would get to vote on whatever dares they wanted to vote on, but the final dare at the end of the movie forces every single player to vote on it. Was that just because it was the final one?
And another thing about that voting: Samira Wiley’s character says that she and her friends in the secretive underground hacker’s club have access to a legion of bots that can sway the voting and overpower the entire watcher community. So, in reality, the watchers don’t decide the dares in Nerve; a group of maybe a dozen people do. And one of the people with access to this machine that can control the entire outcome of the game is already friends with Vee (Emma Roberts). So, with that in mind, what was the point of all this? How were there any stakes to begin with? It’s like if the electoral college was one guy and you were his friend and you decided to spend $11 billion running for president.
Also, here’s a good question: How big is this game? It seems like a relatively new invention, given that its target demographic is just starting to find out about it. However, at the end we see that middle-aged men and middle-school girls already know about it, so what gives? We also know that it happened at least once before, a year ago in Seattle, but is this an annual thing? Is it a regional one? Is this the first New York Nerve game? And it’s said that after he snitched on the “Seattle incident” around a year before, Dave Franco became a prisoner of the game. So, what did he do for a whole year? Was he just playing Nerve in different cities? Did the game relocate him to New York? Why would they do that? How much freedom did he have in the time between Nerve games? This is all predicated on the notion that Nerve games happen more than once a year, which the movie strongly implies is not the case.
Then again, we have no idea how long the game lasts. It’s clear that Sydney’s been playing it for at least a few days, and Machine Gun Kelly seems to already know the game inside and out, but somehow Vee is able to start playing in the afternoon and nearly win the whole fucking game before daybreak. It’s also very unclear how she and Dave Franco became the two finalists. There was no tournament going on up to this point, and when Machine Gun Kelly bogarts the show it’s implied that there are still other people who haven’t lost yet. Was the whole game just counting down to that point, and whoever was in the lead at that exact moment would be the finalists? That seems unfair to the people who’d been playing the game for months, given the fleeting nature of popularity in the internet age.
The ending also doesn’t really make much sense. I won’t give any spoilers away, but it’s strongly implied at the end that there’s another Nerve, or the game is starting to build up again or something. Vee and Franco kiss, pull back to reveal someone’s filming it, Nerve music starts playing. What the fuck? Whatever that was, it definitely couldn’t have been Nerve, because Vee and Franco had no idea they were being filmed, and also they weren’t being dared. Is it trying to say that the movie itself was some sort of meta-Nerve? How much power does this game have, anyway? The movie basically says they’re in cahoots with police in multiple cities, but like I said before, it seems like a pretty new game. Do Vee and her mom ever get their money back? When the cop asks Vee if they’re doing anything illegal, why doesn’t she say, “Yeah, theft. Kidnapping. Probably murder.” Instead she just stands there like a fucking doofus, which leads to people knocking her out and leaving her in a shipping container by the Long Island Ferry, something that the cop must have witnessed that is definitely illegal. Where do they get all the money from? Sure, only one player actually gets the money in the end, but there’s still gotta be a point where thousands of players are getting thousands of dollars that don’t seem to come from anywhere except the game’s $20-a-day subscription fee, some of which must go to paying programmers and bribing multiple police forces and building fucking coliseums for their final dares. The final dares can’t always be murder, right? What if the final dare is to go skiing or hijack a concert or something? What would they use that arena for? If MGK has been playing for so long, how come his final challenge only gets him $50,000?
Anyway, I liked the movie. Good suspense. Great lighting. I give it a B.