Dr. Larry Roberts (Albert Finney), a beloved plastic surgeon, suddenly finds himself in the middle of a mystery. Three of his latest clients, all beautiful models who came to him for surgery with very specific measurements and data points, have ended up dead. The police think they might be suicides, but the lead detective and Dr. Roberts himself doesn’t think so. Something funny is going on. There were four women who came to him with the same precise measurements and with three of them dead, he decides to look out for the fourth, Cindy (Susan Dey). And that’s just about when things start to get really weird. Roberts uncovers a conspiracy in the fashion industry and in politics, led by corporate mogul John Reston (James Coburn). It involves computers and mind control and a gun that warps your perceptions of time and your senses. Can Roberts stop the plot and save Cindy, or will the forces arrayed against him be too diabolical to overcome?
I must have seen this movie a million times when I was a kid and it played on one of the cable movie channels. This one ranks right up there with Flash and Runaway in my top five most-viewed repeats on cable when I was a young teen. I always loved it and why not? There’s sci-fi, there’s intrigue, there’s this wild conspiracy to use computer-enhanced images to sell not only products, but politicians as well. Oh, and there’s boobs and plenty of action. Michael Crichton (yes, that Michael Crichton) wrote and directed this, back when he was making movies and writing novels. He soon got out of the movie game, which is a shame, because he made a visually stunning film. The music and the look combined give this a weird, futuristic sheen and yet was totally grounded in the reality of its time. It was forward-looking, as well, predicting the use of computer animated people to populate both film and TV. No need for actors once you’ve captured their images and voices on the computer. Then you can just program them to do whatever you want. And that gun! How cool is it?
Looker is a bit dated, for sure, but man does it hold up. The story is still interesting, the visual look and feel of the film is arresting, and that synth soundtrack is superb. All the acting is great of course, and the combined settings of the fashion world and the computer labs shouldn’t work together but somehow do. This is a really damned good film and you should look for it. Too bad HBO doesn’t have it in constant rotation, like the old days.