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‘Tank Girl’ (R)

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 31, 1995

Evidently Rachel Talalay wanted to follow up her directorial debut ("Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare") with a dull daydream. "Tank Girl," derived from the futuristic comic-book series of the same name, is a lifeless pop vision of the future that tries too self-consciously to be irreverent, hip and cutting edge.

Despite its wacky low-tech sets, an ambitiously latexed cast of kangaroo-human mutants (known as Rippers), and the chirpy antics of lead performer Lori Petty, the movie just sits there in the conceptual mud.

In the year 2033, in a world unimaginatively reminiscent of "Star Wars" and "The Road Warrior," the Earth's water supply is controlled by Malcolm McDowell, a silver-haired villain who looks like he could be Billy Idol's grandfather. But his plans to rule the planet through aquatic monopoly are dried up when he captures Petty, a Betty-Boop-voiced Valley Warrior with attitude and ever-changing, post-apocalyptic hairdos and clothing.

Petty, who shows herself to be capable of breaking a man's neck with a violent twist of her legs, teams up with Australian-accented, prisoner-technician Jet Girl (Naomi Watts), commandeers one of McDowell's tanks, joins up with the aforementioned Rippers and starts her own laid-back version of a revolution.

Director Talalay (who also made "Ghost in the Machine") concentrates almost entirely on the look of her movie. Petty's hair and costume changes matter more than anything. And special attention is given to the prosthetic effects of the Rippers (played by Ice T, Jeff Kober and others); a post-Busby Berkeley dance number in a futuristic bordello called Liquid Silver; and the holographic head and "cyber-arm" attachment McDowell develops for himself.

But in attempting to re-create Tank Girl's cool, do-nothing ethos, the movie simply suffers from a ubiquitous lack of action. Certainly, characters do a lot of things. They also quip a lot of (supposedly) funny lines. But the story, which feels like a disjointed collection of low-budget rock videos more than a coherent plot, just rocks idly on its pseudo-fashionable backside.

TANK GIRL (R) -- Contains profanity, sexual situations and violence.

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