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Tank Girl

Tank Girl (1995) Movie Poster
  •  USA  •    •  104m  •    •  Directed by: Rachel Talalay.  •  Starring: Lori Petty, Ice-T, Naomi Watts, Don Harvey, Jeff Kober, Reg E. Cathey, Scott Coffey, Malcolm McDowell, Stacy Linn Ramsower, Ann Cusack, Brian Wimmer, Iggy Pop, Dawn Robinson.  •  Music by: Graeme Revell.
        In the year 2033, the world's water supply is controlled by Kesslee, a maniacal dictator who presides over the Water & Power company. Tank Girl, a tough punk water poacher, struggles alongside her comrades to deliver the valuable resource to parched persons around the globe. But when Tank Girl is captured by Kesslee, he makes her work as one of his human automatons in the W & P mines. Her fate goes from bad to worse when Kesslee makes her a proposition: She can go free if she agrees to exterminate the ravenous Rippers--half-man, half-kangaroo beasts. But before she's forced to answer, along comes Jet Girl, who rescues Tank Girl from Kesslee's clutches. Now these two spunky chicks will do whatever it takes to destroy Kesslee and hydrate the desert planet.

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Image from: Tank Girl (1995)
Image from: Tank Girl (1995)
Image from: Tank Girl (1995)
Image from: Tank Girl (1995)
Image from: Tank Girl (1995)
Image from: Tank Girl (1995)
Image from: Tank Girl (1995)
Image from: Tank Girl (1995)
Image from: Tank Girl (1995)
Image from: Tank Girl (1995)
You should walk into the theater with zero expectations, leaving with an unbiased impression instead of a smirk. But yesterday, I did something most movie critics should not do: I went to hate-watch Insurgent with my bubbly teenage sister who was most definitely not hate-watching the film. I won't go into details (to be fair, I just posted my review of Insurgent only yesterday), but what I will admit is that I left the cinema with a strong feeling of meh, if that's even a feeling (the youths act like it is these days). It's a "blockbuster" for the teen crowd, a B-version of The Hunger Games. Its biggest crime is not being meh; its biggest crime is being so devoid of any kind of personality.

In 2015, well-crafted action scenes and statuesque leads are not enough -' they might have been in 1999, but we can no longer party like its 1999, because 1999 was, well, 16 years ago. Nowadays, all we can depend on is ... spunk. It's a shame that a blockbuster as lame-brained as Insurgent is going to make so much money; what does it really have to offer?

Which finally brings me to Tank Girl, the 1995 would-be blockbuster that is better known today as being the film that lost $21 million dollars at the box-office, the film that should have made a Lori Petty a star but didn't, the film that Naomi Watts co-starred in before she became the "it girl" from Mulholland Dr., the film that now resides in the throes of two golden words: cult classic. I was reminded of the film during, yes, Insurgent, where Watts makes an appearance as the blandly handsome male lead's mother. In the theater, surrounded by giggling teenage girls, I found myself pondering about that money-losing cult classic I had known about but never watched for years.

But enough for backstories; mine, most likely, isn't as interesting as I'd like it to be. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that it's so unfair that Tank Girl, which is exploding with spunk and personality, is confined to the sad remarkability of a cult film, whereas Insurgent, which is about as interesting as your sad Uncle Alvarez, is going to make millions upon millions of dollars. (Cut to me going outside during this dark, rainy night, falling onto my knees, and yelling "NOOOOOOOO!" into the air like no one's watching.)

It comes down to this: please, please don't see Insurgent. See the breakneck speeded, freakish, abstract, one-liner infused saunter of Tank Girl. It won't make you smarter, and it certainly won't change your life, but I'll be damned if it doesn't enliven your spirits with its out- and-proud weirdness.

The year is 2033. 11 years earlier, a comet hit the Earth with devastating results, causing an endless drought that has turned most of the world into a parched desert. Little of the population remains; most work for, or head, the scheming Water & Power corporation, who use their massive authority to act as a sort of new, evil government. Their latest advancement? They now have the capability to purify blood into water, which is totally reasonable and not at all disgusting.

A few people have escaped the clutches of the nefarious executives, however. Among them are Rebecca Buck, aka Tank Girl (Petty). She prides herself in her unwavering wildness: she's overtly sexual, loud, gross, and fearless, deadly with a gun and tough-talking in her words. Unlike the Trises and Katnisses of today, she is blatantly ballsy. She doesn't regret her actions, and she doesn't care what people think of her. When her commune is destroyed by W & P, though, she is kidnapped by their hilariously ghoulish leader (Malcolm McDowell), who sees promise in Tank Girl's defiant attitude but is threatened by it, throwing her into slave work. But of course, she escapes, with a new friend in tow (Naomi Watts). Of course, she embarks on a crazy adventure. Of course, she ends up winning the mini-battle against the company. But who cares about predictability when it's all wrapped up in a tie-dyed package of kookiness?

Assembling itself in a sphere of scale-models, campy set-pieces, outlandish prosthetic makeup, animated interludes, and a soundtrack and tone that suggests it all was funded by classic era MTV, Tank Girl swirls in a blender of batshit energy, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. I guess it wants to be too many things at once: funny, sexy, cute, action-packed, and most clearly, fun, for lack of a better term. It isn't great at everything it attempts, but what Tank Girl never fails at is being downright amusing. Petty's tough broad façade is consistently charming; her presence is so essential that her hit-or-miss (but mostly miss) career can be blamed for this career-defining portrayal. Personally, I think she's absolutely fantastic, but others might not be so sure (she's so delightfully manic).


Review by Blake Peterson from the Internet Movie Database.

 

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