Title: Tank Girl
Genre: Dystopian Sci-Fi, Action, Comedy
Starring: Lori Petty, Ice-T, Naomi Watts, Malcolm McDowell
Director: Rachel Talalay
Big budgeted dystopian flicks don't seem to come around too often – and by “big budget” I really just mean enough to hire a recognisable cast and still afford to do the effects work – so when they do emerge I usually manage to spot them fairly quickly, but this is one that seems to have slipped under the radar. Now revered as a 'cult classic' that was spawned from a cult comic about the punk rock anti-hero of a woman driving in a stolen tank and doing whatever she felt like, living life out to the fullest in a world that was hit by a meteor a decade earlier and hasn't seen rain since. Water now being the most precious commodity in existence, and most of it owned by the greedy owner of the “Water and Power” mega corporation, they act like an unofficial police force concerned with obtaining ever more water, and when they raid Tank Girls home and kidnap her child, she embarks on a quest to save her.
The problem is that it all comes off as sloppily put together; the animated sequences emerge for absolutely no reason, are jarring in the dissonant manner they continue the story and the worst part is that according to the comic's creator, it was done simply because they 'forgot' to film certain sequences, which pretty much sums up just how much care went into this film. In capable hands this could have worked; Lori Petty's deranged and carefree attitude is a constant joy to watch and the frenetic pace with a complete disregard for ever slowing things down or to stop throwing them into new situations keeps things interesting, but this is where the issues begin to reveal themselves. They've tried to include so much from dance numbers to montage sequences that none of it really makes sense, it's just there simply because it's not been done yet. The final battle is particularly perplexing; involving a hologram that can touch you but you can't touch it, unless you use something that isn't living. Would wearing gloves work? Could you not pick up a bat of some kind to wield against him?
The characters are so mono-dimensional that it feels like they're emotionally stunted; Jet's the shy nerdy one, the Tank Girl just doesn't seem to care about anyone and the villain panders to every cliché; there's absolutely no variation in their emotions or attitudes from scene to scene. And since the entire plot is being driven by the Tank Girl, it all starts to spiral downhill when you realise just how void of any clear motivation she seems to be, making for a thoroughly directionless story. That carefree punk rock attitude is pushed too far and either needs some stronger grounding – a down to earth realistic character to keep the story on track – or to have her role toned back at certain times. There just simply isn't enough substance to make it more than mildly entertaining; that film you'll half-watch and then forget almost entirely the next day, and rather than make the comics more widely known, it killed them off. Disappointing doesn't even begin to cover it.