The death of YA may have been exaggerated. Nerve, based on the book by Jeanne Ryan, is turned into a humdinger of a brisk teen action movie thanks to Catfish filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (they also contributed the third Paranormal Activity, one of the franchise’s worst entries). Good girl Vee (Emma Roberts) gets turned onto the internet’s new underground sensation, Nerve, a game where you choose to be a player or a watcher.
Nerve is sort of like truth or dare without the truth. Watchers pay to see players do stunts too dangerous and crazy for “Fear Factor”; players are paid if they succeed. The highest-ranked players in the end will compete in the final. Vee rockets up the standings once she teams up with Ian (Dave Franco), who is harboring some dirty little secrets. Vee’s success threatens her friendship with attention-starved Sydney (Emily Meade, “The Leftovers”) to a dangerous degree.
Consider Nerve to be Crank Jr., which is a huge compliment (I loved Crank). It manages to balance the crazed fun of its stunts with the necessary moralizing about teenagers, the anonymity of the internet and free will. Don’t miss summer’s most shockingly entertaining surprise.