Tank Girl (1995)

(On TV, August 2013) I’m not sure how I went so long without seeing this oddball take on post-apocalyptic science-fiction, but I can say that while the film is uneven, it’s striking enough.  Lori Petty stars as the titular Tank Girl, an irrepressible punk-inspired heroine battling against an evil monopoly with designs on all remaining water in the world.  It’s not meant to be realistic: adapted from a comic book series, Tank Girl keeps, even today, a manic energy exemplified by energetic editing, unusual scene transition, caricatures in lieu of characters and a one-liner-spouting heroine that never has a moment of self-doubt.  That last never-say-die attitude eventually grates, as it’s hard to tell braggadocio from brain damage.  Still, Tank Girl (a rare SF film directed by a woman, in this case Rachel Talalay) has its share of odd and unique moments, whether it’s a sudden musical number, a heavy-metal-riffed tank-customization sequence or terrible kangaroo-human makeup.  Petti can be curiously sexy at times (when she’s not being annoying –no mean feat), but from a contemporary perspective the most interesting performances belong to Malcolm McDowell as an over-the-top villain, Naomi Watts as unglamorous “Jet Girl” and what appears to be a self-loathing Ice-T in a role best left undiscussed.  The films gets more strident and less interesting the longer it goes on, so this is one of those where if you feel the need to stop, it’s probably best that you do so immediately.  Still, Tank Girl remains worthy of a look for fans of cult cinema.

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