A late-night cable staple of my 80’s childhood, Looker claims to be about…well, I don’t really know what it’s about. What I do know is, Albert Finney plays an L.A. plastic surgeon whose patients begin to die off with startling frequency. His investigation leads him to a shady market research organization (headed by the ancient James Coburn) that’s engaged in something that has to do with something that has to do with something else, and it’s all tied to a little gun that makes neat sounds and puts people into trances. End credits.
The rad (and quite possibly bitchin’) 80’s synth soundtrack, big hair, off-the-shoulder sweatshirts, and leggings. Plus, there’s a nifty Looker Ballad at the beginning that’s so unintentionally funny, it has to be heard to be believed. There’s a very cool sequence about half way through the film where Finney finds himself at the mercy of a henchman who repeatedly uses the trance gun to attack him, but that’s about it. Seriously.
Like Crichton’s Coma, this movie is a mess, from the convoluted plot about body imaging, subliminal messages, and time manipulation, to Crichton’s insistence on generating as little excitement as possible for a futuristic thriller. By the end, when Finney battles it out with the shady corporation, I wasn’t at all sure who had done what to whom and why, and I didn’t care. And Susan Dey, as one of Finney’s former patients, enters and exits frames with all the luster of a cardboard box, bringing every scene she’s in to a teeth-grinding halt, so she doesn’t help things. She couldn’t have been this bad in The Partridge Family, right?
Unless you’re nostalgic for those late nights watching Looker on Showtime, or you feel you really, really, really can’t live without an 80’s fix, I’d say you can pretty much pass this one up. Sorry.
1981; starring Albert Finney, Susan Dey; directed by Michael Crichton; 93 min; PG; in English