TANK GIRL


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Tank Girl is this movie about a girl, you see, who has a tank. The tank magically changes from a Patton (when she finds it) to a Sherman (when she drives it), but that's probably because they could only find a working, road-worthy Sherman. Since the make of the tank isn't a plot point, this isn't as bad as when a pair of Shermans played Panthers in THE BIG RED ONE.

Okay, the plot. There's this girl, see, and she has a tank.

Oh, yeah, the buffoonery that surrounds it. Seems like we're in the world of 2033, some years after a comet hit the earth and made all the water go away. It's grim post-apocalyptic.

The water hasn't quite all gone away -- it's being hoarded by Malcolm McDowell, the British soft-core actor, doing his patented sadistic psychopath routine. He's been playing that role since some Ghod-awful Anthony Quinn vehicle some years back, where Malcolm was a Nazi officer who had a swastika on his jockstrap in the scene where he went prancing around in nothing but a jockstrap and a riding whip (he was that kind of Nazi officer). He's got the role here because Donald Sutherland was being the psychopath in OUTBREAK and wasn't available.

In order to get a corner on water, Malcolm (I forget what the name of the character was supposed to be -- forgive me) sends his troops to capture the desert commune sitting on top of an underground source of water in which Tank Girl (who doesn't yet have her tank) is living. In fact, she's on watch in a trench outside of the house. She's smoking, she's doing her nails, she's fooling around putting artful and oh-so-punk cuts in her nylons (and I asked myself In this world where's she going to get another pair? For that matter, where did she get that pair?) so no wonder the bad guy troopers get right past her and kill everyone. All her buddies die and it's her fault -- but that thought never crosses her mind in the rest of the flick.

They don't get all killed, really. For reasons that escape me, the bad guy troopers kidnap the Cute Little Girl and capture not- yet-Tank Girl, and take them, separately, back to Bad Guy Central, in effects shots so cheesy that you'd expect Mothra to show up any minute.

There Tank Girl is put to work in the Bad Guys' Dark Satanic Mills, which about serves her right.

Now I need to tell you that all is not well with the world. In addition to the human bad guys there are non-human things called "Rippers" who appear from nowhere and tear people's guts out. No one, we're told, has ever seen one. (Keeping it that way until the end of the movie would have been a clever idea, as I'll get to in a minute.)

The Bad Guy, for reasons that escape me, decides to send not-quite-yet Tank Girl (her name in the film is Rebecca, BTW) down into a Ripper underground lair when he discovers one (by the simple expedient of having one of his outposts destroyed by Rippers). While he's there, sending her in, the Rippers attack again (and we see them in their only visually effective appearance in the film as brief ghostly flashes in the sensor screens of the jet of Jet Girl (yet another prisoner of the Bad Guys, also escaping).

Anyway, the Rippers kill everyone except Tank Girl and Jet Girl (the Bad Guy is grievously wounded, and will have his arm replaced by a mechanical gizmo and his head replaced with a hologram). Tank Girl finds a tank, left over when the Bad Guys' forces were devastated, and falls in love. (Lots of jokes about the phallic nature of the main gun.)

Tank Girl and Jet Girl go out to have adventures, which consist mostly of wearing a wide variety of bras as outer clothing. It rather made me wonder what was in the equipment box on that tank when Tank Girl captured it. They learn that the Cute Little Girl is still alive, a prisoner in a water bordello where everyone, customers, staff, everyone, knows all the words to "Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love."

Some time after this, Tank Girl and Jet Girl become prisoners of the Rippers. For reasons that escape me the Rippers don't just kill them. It turns out that the Rippers are genetically engineered crosses between humans and kangaroos, designed to be super soldiers. What they unfortunately look like is a cross between John Candy in SPACEBALLS and the guy in the Easter Bunny suit down at your local mall.

After a bit more buffoonery the Rippers, led by Tank Girl, attack the Bad Guys' headquarters, rescue the Cute Kid one more time, kill the main Bad Guy and then -- the movie's over, apparently with the Rippers going waterskiing behind Tank Girl's tank, for reasons that escape me.

The best bits were the comic-book art inserted between scenes. The worst bits are the action sequences (how in the world do you make a running duel between an armored battletruck and a tank boring?) and the Rippers.


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