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Looker (1981) Movie Poster
  •  USA  •    •  93m  •    •  Directed by: Michael Crichton.  •  Starring: Albert Finney, James Coburn, Susan Dey, Leigh Taylor-Young, Dorian Harewood, Tim Rossovich, Darryl Hickman, Kathryn Witt, Terri Welles, Michael Hawkins, Ashley Cox, Donna Kei Benz, Catherine Parks.  •  Music by: Barry De Vorzon.
        Plastic surgeon Larry Roberts performs a series of minor alterations on a group of models who are seeking perfection. The operations are a resounding success. But when someone starts killing his beautiful patients, Dr. Roberts becomes suspicious and starts investigating. What he uncovers are the mysterious - and perhaps murderous - activities of a high-tech computer company called Digital Matrix.


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Image from: Looker (1981)
Image from: Looker (1981)
Image from: Looker (1981)
Image from: Looker (1981)
Image from: Looker (1981)
Image from: Looker (1981)
Image from: Looker (1981)
I'm on the fence about this film. I just revisited it on DVD after having not seen it in over 20 years, and it's interesting to have watched it as an adult instead of a bored kid looking for something on HBO.

It's a great idea, and its got a mostly great cast. Susan Dey is the best part of it, although Albert Finney makes an alright action hero. James Coburn has "corporate greed" written all over him here, too.

But it's absolutely ridiculous in the way the film plays out. The plot requires Finney and Dey to consistently be in danger and then escape from situations that would kill James Bond in a heartbeat. It helps that they're being chased by the most incompetent goons on the face of the earth. Not only can they not hit a moving target with a machine gun, but they don't even know how to protect themselves from their own weapons.

Finney is a plastic surgeon who performs surgery on a handful of models who are already beautiful. They want to make microscopic changes to their faces in order to make money in television commercials. Seems a little misguided to me, like sinking your life savings into the opening of a music store that specializes in 8-Track tapes. But Finney does the work nonetheless, after which there is a slight problem: the women are killed off, most commonly by being pushed off of high balconies.

It's tough to say why just by watching the movie. Coburn is heading up a company that specializes in micromanaging the creation of commercials, using computer generated images to sell products, and they're fairly above the board about it. But they also are into planting hypnotic suggestions in their commercials, and they want to use this technology (which involves glowing blue eyes) to shape the political landscape. That part of it makes them want to kill the models, apparently, even though the girls don't seem to be aware of this plot (Susan Dey's character certainly is not).

It doesn't help that the movie is badly dated in its imagining of technology. Everything is ultra-80s, and watching it now, we're reminded that in the 80s, everybody thought computers would wind up occupying enormous black-walled rooms filled with glowing green neon floorboards and monitors that depict scrolling numeric charts that go by too quickly for the human eye to comprehend. Why? We don't know, it just looks cool, I guess.

And that's the problem with "Looker"--Crichton seems to be more concerned with how the movie looks rather than if it makes any sense or not. When the movie's called "Looker", I guess that's fair enough. But he relies on so many cliché situations that it cannot be taken seriously. There's also a total lack of suspense, despite the fact that Dey and Finney go running around having people chase them and shoot at them. That is a bad thing.

Review by GroovyDoom from the Internet Movie Database.