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James A. Watson Jr.
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. Written by
Michael Crichton's "Looker" is a challenging and intelligent thriller that's better than you would expect. Since most reviews of the film are negative, that's created an unfair bias against it. That's a shame because this film is a pleasure to watch.
The plot is like a Rubik's Cube. Just when you thought you had it figured out, WHAM!! a twist comes out of nowhere and confounds the viewer. That's one of the films' pleasures.
The stylish photography is another plus. A key part of all of Crichton's films is the flashy, stylish photography and that's no exception here. Shot by Paul Lohmann in Panavision, "Looker" often looks and feels like "Westworld" mixed with "Coma" polished with lemon pledge. It's atmospheric and great to look at.
The performances are another key. Albert Finney, entering the horror cycle of his career (with this and another 1981 release "Wolfen", which contains many of the same elements that make this so good), projects fear and calm every scene he's in and it's another strong performance from one of our most underrated actors (he's never won an Oscar; a thought that boggled the mind). It seems fitting that he's paired up with another underrated actor, James Coburn. In a time where he was making one horrible film after another (until his renaissance in 1997), it's good to see him in a good film for a change.
I have some problems with the plot, mostly things that are left unexplained (the American TV/European theatrical version restores 15 minutes of story that fills in these holes) Now that I think about it, that's a good thing. Crichton wants us to be confused just like his hero and part of the fun is figuring everything out as he does.
"Looker" is a film that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as "Westworld", "Coma" and "The Great Train Robbery". It shows impeccable skill and masterful direction that lesser talents have shown in bigger hits than this. It's worth a look.
**** out of 4 stars
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