“It’s the year 2033. There’s no law, no mercy – and no water. The odds of survival are 1,000 to one. And that’s just the way she likes it.”
Former Free Willy star Lori Petty starred in the titular role as a punk rocker anti-heroine in combat boots, ripped fishnets, a push-up bra, and 36 different hairstyles – accompanied by Ice-T done up as a half-human mutant kangaroo “Ripper”.
On a post-apocalyptic Earth where it hasn’t rained for 11 years, and water is a priceless commodity controlled by the ruthless Kesslee (Malcolm McDowell) who runs the all-powerful Department of Water and Power, Rebecca Buck (Petty) loses her home and family to Kesslee’s evil meter readers.
She is thrown in a work camp and subjected to a series of bizarre tortures before escaping with her new pal, mousy aircraft mechanic Jet Girl (Naomi Watts), and appropriating an army surplus Sherman tank, which is soon equipped with an easy chair, mini TV, and a barbecue grill on which she cooks hot dogs – Tank Girl is born!
TG and her renegade cohorts are now hellbent on liberating the water supply from the evil Kesslee.
The best scenes involve the Rippers, who, for the first part of the film, are portrayed as a horrific tribe of monsters. Tank and Jet decide they have to find the Rippers’ underground lair, and when they do, they discover the Rippers are not monsters but lovable, furry, half-man/half-kangaroo creatures whose ears bend and curl according to the emotion they are feeling.
They live in teenage heaven, complete with pinball machines and a bowling alley, and wear tennis shoes cut for kangaroo feet. One of the Rippers – DeeTee (Reg E. Cathey) – claims he is Jack Kerouac reincarnated and accompanies his beat poetry recitations on saxophone.
The interactions between the Rippers and the girls are the most charming moments in the film.
But the fragmented plot interspersed with wacky cartoon gimmicks makes no sense, and the futuristic post-apocalyptic desert setting (the movie was filmed in Arizona and New Mexico) makes it feel like a Mad Max sequel.
Based on a cult comic strip in the British magazine Deadline which first appeared in 1988, the film was rehashed so much in the editing room that Tank Girl‘s creators, Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin, eventually distanced themselves from the final product.
During an interview on a hip-hop show, Ice-T was mocked for doing Tank Girl. He replied, “I was paid $800,000 for that movie”. The host moved on.
Tank Girl (Rebecca Buck)
Reg E. Cathey
Stacy Linn Ramsower
Billy L. Sullivan
Will ‘Nahkohe’ Strickland
Charles Robert Harden
John David Bland