Tank Girl (1995)

Rating: ***
Director: Rachel Talaley
Cast: Lori Petty, Naomi Watts, Malcolm McDowell, Ice-T, James Hong

A disappointing, but fun and campy film adaptation of the classic underground punk comic book, "Tank Girl." In a scorched-earth post apocalyptic future, water is the most precious resource and most of it belongs to a psychotic villain played by Malcolm McDowell. Rebecca (a butch and obnoxious Lori Petty) is a rebellious punk chick who lives in the desert with her other punk friends and makes her living by stealing water from McDowell's flunkies. Her friends get murdered, she gets captured, she escapes, and with the aid of Jet Girl (cute Naomi Watts) she takes out McDowell's operation once and for all. What starts out as a fun and quirky action comedy falls apart with an overblown singing and dancing musical number (!), and the inclusion of a group of mutant kangaroo warriors called "Rippers." The film is overflowing with attitude, but it doesn't have the balls to back it up. Lori Petty and Naomi Watts do a great job with what they're given to work with, but don't get enough of a chance to show us how tough they really are. I'd much rather see them kicking ass than exchanging quips (one of my complaints about Uma Thurman and Alicia Silverstone in "Batman And Robin" (1997) as well). I was excited when I found out that a woman would be directing this film and was very curious to see a woman's take on a female action hero film. Either she's been sterilized by Hollywood or I have absolutely no comprehension of the female psyche, because this film feels like it's desperately trying to play to male sensibilities and please a primarily male audience (think "Barb Wire" (1996) here). Regardless, it's a lot of fun lightweight fluff spiced up with some superb animated sequences.