Albert Finney, Susan Dey, James Coburn,
Terry Kiser, Dorian Harewood
Written and directed by Michael Crichton
Originally released 1981
Warner Home Video 2007
Writer director Michael Crichton delivers a pleasant mystery with a technological angle DVD movie in Looker. This is an original mystery with some techno jargon and computers thrown in to give it a certain post-modern eighties feel. The premise is interesting and the end product though not brilliant certainly entertains and does not overstay its welcome. If you are looking for a mystery that keeps you guessing Looker tells you whodunit pretty early on so the fun here is watching the hero and his babe (Susan Dey, of course) try to figure out and survive the bad guy’s nefarious plans.
Albert Finney plays a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon whose clients, television commercial stars, die mysterious deaths. In fact, the only such client he has left is Susan Dey of The Partridge Family and pre L.A. Law fame. When Doctor Larry Roberts more or less becomes a suspect in Dorian Harewood’s investigation he takes matters in his own hands assisted by Cindy Fairmont (Dey) to try and figure out what is going on.
The premise is someone, James Coburn, is digitizing TV commercial spokesmodels to create the perfect commercial where the model though beautiful will not outshine the product. Once digitized, the company no longer needs the human original and does not want to pay residuals for work not really done so causes her death. Model Cindy Fairmont is next unless she and Albert Finney can figure out what is going on. They discover there is something even more sinister behind commercials made by dead actresses.
Looker being a Michael Crichton DVD you can expect a bunch of futuristic gadgets in this mystery including a Star-Trek phaser lookalike that emits a strobe light that seems to freeze its target so the bad guy (who appropriately has a dark mustache) can do his nefarious deed. This being the kind of mystery it is there is a bevy of bodacious babes and they conveniently wear skimpy clothing when they encounter the bad guy and die.
A good thing about this techno mystery is it does not get lost in technical jargon nor tries to impress too much with fancy special effects. Looker does have a few computer related moments that look good on screen (especially the one involving Susan Dey) but Crichton does not forget he is basically making a mystery. He does throw in a few comic moments especially in the middle of the tense ending and some really cool shots here and there for good measure.
Looker is a fun little mystery with an original science fiction twist I would not dismiss as implausible in an age where the dead John Wayne can still make commercials. It is not a classic but definitely entertaining.