Rated PG-13, 96 minutes
Are you a player or a watcher? Do you dare to really live? "Nerve" seeks to answer those questions, and becomes one of those edgy, entertaining techno thrillers whose pertinent glow will get under your skin in an addictive way, much like the online games it emulates. High school senior Venus (Emma Roberts) enters Nerve: an online reality video game of objective-focused "truth or dare" where people either enlist online as "players" or pay to watch as "watchers". Venus, paired with mysterious player Ian (Dave Franco), are caught into deadly objectives, with their identity taken and victory being the escape. Co-directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman of "Catfish" and the last 2 "Paranormal Activity" films, and written by Jessica Sharzer, based on Jeanne Ryan's young adult novel of the same name, "Nerve" has a hyper, kinetic energy to it that will certainly draw curiosity seekers in spite of some flaws, particularly skimming over details and an unsatisfactory ending that seeks to tie all loose ends together a little too nicely. It helps that Roberts and Franco, both of whom have famous kin (Emma's aunt Julia and Dave's brother James), hold their own and have a natural chemistry together that carries the film through some of its more far-fetched moments (c'mon, teens are technologically savvy, but seriously?) and puts the finishing touches on some of the other exciting ones, including one intense moment that has the pair riding a motorcycle through New York City at 60 mph while Franco's Ian is blindfolded. Admittedly, aside from those outlandish yet memorable stunts that keep the movie flowing, there isn't much to it, and late in the middle act it loses a little footing trying to resolve everything and explain Franco's character's backstory - which still isn't all that clear - but the charming "Nerve" dares to have a little fun and often succeeds when it stays focused on the dares, which are the real heart of the film. This plays the blame game all right, by blaming the game itself and technology for making people watch, just don't feel too guilty for enjoying the fast-paced "Nerve."