Saturday Review: Tank Girl

Our reviews of genre films past continues with this film, which helped lead the 90s invasion of butt-kicking babes. It’s 1995. Lara Croft first appears and Xena meets Gabrielle. Buffy made her debut on film in ’92, but her more successful show is still two years in the future.

Tank Girl, based on the late 80s/early 90s comic, charges into the theatres.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Director: Rachel Talalay

Writors: Alan Martin,
Jamie Hewlett, and Tedi Sarafian.


Lori Petty as Tank Girl/Rebecca
Naomi Watts as Jet Girl
Malcolm McDowell as Keslee
Ice T as T-Saint
Jeff Kober as Booga
Don Harvey as Sgt. Small
Stacy Linn Ramsower as Sam
Ann Cusack as Sub Girl
Reg E. Cathey as Dee Tee
Iggy Pop as Rat Face
Ann Magnuson as the Madam


The film’s titular punk, her nerdy sidekick, and a band of genetically-engineered man-kangaroos take on an evil, water-hoarding corporation in the post-apocalyptic world of 2033.

High Points:

The customized tank is a joy to behold, and ranks just below the Batmobile on the list of really cool comic-book-inspired rides.

“Sounds like Cole Porter to me, sir.”

Low Point:

The comic-book montages work as part of the film’s style, but the animated sequences do not. I felt especially cheated by the use of confusing animation as a conclusion.

The film features a few too many music video sequences and bits where Lori Petty was obviously instructed to improvise. She’s funny, but the movie would have benefited from a few slower-paced, character-based scenes. The director has complained of studio interference with the movie, and a list of changes appears here.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 The film was based on an existing comic, though it takes a more conventional approach to the material than does its source. Despite its quirky touches, the plot is that of every action movie you’ve ever watched. It gets one extra point for the Rippers.

Effects: 4/6 Most of the effects hold up, and even the obvious models suit the film. The Rippers’ wire-fu doesn’t quite work.

Story: 3/6.

A brave, rag-tag band of heroes take on an Evil Empire, leaping over plot holes along the way.

Acting: 5/6. Take the performances as camp. Lori Petty is obviously having a blast. Malcolm McDowell as the psychopathic head of Water and Power channels comic-book supervillains. Perhaps the most nuanced performance belongs to Naomi Watts as Jet Girl.

Production: 5/6. This film has great visual style.

Emotional Response: 4/6. It may be a stupid movie, but it’s a very cool stupid movie.

Overall: 4/6. Few critics treated this film with any respect; I find it entertaining. You cannot take it any more seriously than its makers did.

Tank Girl receives a total score of 28/42

One reply

  1. A great film
    I dragged two friends an hour and a half way to see the midnight showing of this film and never regreted it.

    This is a fun film that understands the source material, understands the situation and where it’s comedic value lies. The writers understand this, as do the actors.

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