What’s missing from the mix is an engaging story to bind together its intriguing bits. And Lori Petty as “Tank Girl,” aka Rachel Buck, has the spunk but, sadly, not the heart of the post-apocalyptic heroine.
An MGM/UA release of a United Artists presentation of a Trilogy Entertainment Group production. Produced by Richard B. Lewis, Pen Densham, John Watson. Executive producers, Aron Warner, Tom Astor. Co-producer, Christian L. Rehr. #Directed by Rachel Talalay. Screenplay by Tedi Sarafian, based upon the comic strip created by Alan Martin, Jamie Hewlett. Camera (Deluxe color), Gale Tattersall; editor, James R. Symons; music, Graeme Revell; production design, Catherine Hardwicke; art direction, Phillip Toolin, Charles D. Lee, Richard Yanez-Toyon, Jim Dultz; set decoration, Cindy Carr; costume design, Arianne Phillips; Rippers designed by Stan Winston; choreographer, Adam Shankman; visual effects supervisor, Peter Crosman; animation designer, Mike Smith; sound (DTS), Ed Novick; military technical adviser, Lt. Col. Duncan Wilmore; assistant director, Mike Topoozian; second unit director, Peter Ramsey; second unit camera , Mike Benson; casting, Pam Dixon Mickelson. Reviewed at the Bruin Theater, L.A. , March 28, 1995. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 104 min. Rachel Buck … Lori Petty Kesslee … Malcolm McDowell T-Saint … Ice-T Jet Girl … Naomi Watts Sergeant Small … Don Harvey Booga … Jeff Kober Dee Tee … Reg E. Cathey Donner … Scott Coffey Sam … Stacy Linn Ramsower Coming to save the world in 2033 is that wild, wacky and energetic “Tank Girl.” But the movie version of the graphic comic book is a classic case of kitchen-sink filmmaking, in which the principals have thrown everything into the stew, hoping enough will stick to the audience.
The futuristic setting depicts a world where water is the ultimate currency. The planet is a massive desert ruled by the tyrannical military-industrial Water & Power Co. and its chief exec Kesslee (Malcolm McDowell). Renegades, including the title character’s band, poach the precious fluid, much to Kesslee’s chagrin.
As the plot turns, Rachel is taken captive and put to work in the W&P mines. But Kesslee views her as having a greater purpose. He wants her to flush out the “Rippers,” a ferocious strain — part man, part kangaroo — created in some warped biolab experiment.
Escaping with the aid of fellow drone Jet Girl (Naomi Watts), Rachel hijacks a tank and sets off in search of the Rippers, unaware she’s been implanted with a homing device.
Of course, the pair get into a lot of trouble along the way. And, also predictably, they wind up, with the aid of the hybrids, saving the desert planet.
Director Rachel Talalay has culled the loudest and most obvious elements associated with hercomic book hero. It’s a biff-bam approach most likely to induce headaches. The pity of it is the film’s failure to reflect the comic’s commentary on the battle of the sexes or the bizarre extremes of corporate mentality. Talalay and scripter Tedi Sarafian prefer the outrageous and gaudy as exemplified by such narrative non sequiturs as a musical interlude at a bar of tomorrow played out to Cole Porter’s anachronistic “Let’s Do It.”
Petty’s take on her character favors brash, physical elements. Lost is the humor and ingenious nature that might have spawned a series. It’s the essential difference between producing “Batman” or “Modesty Blaise.”
“Tank Girl’s” screen assault has a “no prisoners” attitude. There’s some comfort in knowing the troops — both its technicians and artistes — are well-trained pros. But without a forceful field marshal, even the best are undone by chaos.