Tank Girl (film)

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Tank Girl
Tank girl poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Rachel Talalay
Produced by Tom Astor
Screenplay by Tedi Sarafian
Based on Tank Girl 
by Alan Martin
Jamie Hewlett
Starring Lori Petty
Naomi Watts
Malcolm McDowell
Music by Graeme Revell
Courtney Love (Soundtrack coordination)[1]
Cinematography Gale Tattersall
Edited by James R. Symons
Trilogy Entertainment Group
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • March 31, 1995 (1995-03-31)
Running time
104 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25 million
Box office $4.1 million

Tank Girl is a 1995 American science fiction action comedy film loosely based on Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett's comic series of the same name, which originated in the British comic magazine Deadline. Directed by Rachel Talalay and stars Lori Petty as Rebecca Buck, aka the eponymous Tank Girl, the film was met with mixed reviews from critics, and was financially unsuccessful; despite this, it gained a cult following in later years. The film's soundtrack was assembled by Hole frontwoman Courtney Love.


In the year 2022, the Earth was struck by a comet, causing an 11-year drought. By 2033, a majority of the scarce water supply is being held in reserve by Water & Power (W&P), a corporation led by Kesslee (Malcolm McDowell), which uses the water to control the world's population. Rebecca (Lori Petty), aka Tank Girl, is a member of a resistance group that steals whatever water they can find for their community. Their hideout is attacked by W&P, who kill Tank Girl's boyfriend and captures her young friend, Sam (Stacy Linn Ramsower). Tank Girl is captured as well, but her defiant nature and independence intrigues Kesslee, who rather than executing her, decides to torture her and make her a slave. Tank Girl meets Jet Girl (Naomi Watts ), a talented but introverted mechanic who has given up on freedom; she tries to convince Tank Girl to make less trouble for them, but Tank Girl refuses and is only tortured more.

Meanwhile, W&P is attacked by the Rippers; genetically engineered warriors created by Johnny Prophet and currently led by Deetee (Reg E. Cathey). The Rippers slaughter Kesslee's men and escape undetected. Kesslee uses Tank Girl as bait to draw out the Rippers, but they turn the tables, gravely injuring Kesslee and letting Tank Girl escape. Jet Girl joins her, and they learn from the eccentric Sub Girl (Ann Cusack) that Sam is working at Liquid Silver, an adult entertainment club. They infiltrate the club and rescue Sam from a lecherous pedophile, Rat Face (Iggy Pop). They then humiliate the club's owner, "The Madame" (Ann Magnuson) by making her sing Cole Porter's "Let's Do It" at gunpoint. W&P breaks up the song and Sam is again captured. With nowhere to go, Tank Girl and Jet wander the desert, eventually finding the Rippers' hideout (a buried bowling alley) where they discover that the Rippers are humanoid kangaroos. Tank Girl befriends a Ripper named Booga (Jeff Kober) while a Ripper named Donner (Scott Coffey) shows interest in Jet Girl. Despite the objections of T-Saint (Ice-T), who is suspicious of the two girls, the rest of the Rippers send Tank and Jet out on a reconnaissance mission to destroy a shipment of weapons, only to discover they were set up after finding the body of their creator Johnny Prophet stuffed in one of the weapons crates.

Jet Girl comes up with a plan to sneak into W&P. Kesslee, reconstructed after his injuries, reveals that Tank Girl was bugged; their assault turns into a firefight that kills Deetee. Enraged, the Rippers quickly turn the tide of battle while Jet Girl kills Sergeant Small (Don Harvey), who had sexually harassed her earlier. Kesslee reveals that Sam is in the pipe, a hollow tube that he is slowly filling with water. Tank Girl is able to use her tank to disable and kill Kesslee before pulling Sam from the pipe. The scene is followed by an animated sequence where water flows freely and Tank Girl takes Booga water skiing; she tells Jet not to warn them of a waterfall as a surprise to Booga who dives from the cliff.



Rachel Talalay, longtime producer of New Line Cinema, had fallen in love with the comic after receiving an issue for Christmas one year from her stepdaughter, and set out to make "the ultimate grrrrl movie."[3] Although the resulting film has a small cult following along with the far more widely acclaimed comics, Talalay has complained that the studio interfered significantly in the story, screenplay and feel of the film.[4][5][6] In the comics the Rippers are mutated kangaroos capable of speech, though they were changed to a new race of genetically-modified supersoldiers with spliced kangaroo DNA in the film. The makeup effects were created by Stan Winston's studio, who reportedly loved the project so much that they cut their usual prices in half.[7][8] The animation for the film's hallucination sequence was directed by Steve Evangelatos.[9]


Tank Girl grossed $4,064,495 on a $25 million budget.[10] The film holds a 38% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 37 reviews, where the consensus is "While unconventional, Tank Girl isn't particularly clever or engaging, and none of the script's copious one-liners have any real zing."[11]

Roger Ebert gave the film two out of four stars. While praising the film's ambition, he stated the film's manic energy wore him down:

Whatever the faults of Tank Girl, lack of ambition is not one of them. Here is a movie that dives into the bag of filmmaking tricks and chooses all of them. Trying to re-create the multimedia effect of the comic books it's based on, the film employs live action, animation, montages of still graphics, animatronic makeup, prosthetics, song-and-dance routines, scale models, fake backdrops, holography, title cards, matte drawings, and computerized special effects. All I really missed were 3-D and Smell-O-Vision.[12]

In the wake of poor box office gross, Deadline collapsed, having apparently taken huge gambles on Tank Girl. Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett have since spoken poorly of their experiences in creating the film, calling it "a bit of a sore point" for them.[13] Hewlett said, "The script was lousy; me and Alan kept rewriting it and putting Grange Hill jokes and Benny Hill jokes in, and they obviously weren't getting it. They forgot to film about ten major scenes so we had to animate them ... it was a horrible experience."[14]

Despite being a critical and commercial failure, the film has achieved cult status.[15]


Tank Girl Original Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by various artists
Released March 28, 1995 (1995-03-28)
Genre Alternative rock
Label Warner Bros./Elektra

The music consultant who assembled the soundtrack for the film was Courtney Love.[16] Talalay originally wanted Elvis Costello to do the cover version of "Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love", but he declined, and the song was instead performed as a duet by Joan Jett and Paul Westerberg of The Replacements. Devo recorded a new version of their song "Girl U Want" specifically for the film.

The soundtrack album was released on March 28, 1995 on Warner Bros./Elektra Records.

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars link
  1. "Ripper Sole" by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, performed by Stomp! – 1:42
  2. "Army of Me" by Björk – 3:56
  3. "Girl U Want" by Devo – 3:51
  4. "Mockingbird Girl" by The Magnificent Bastards featuring Scott Weiland – 3:30
  5. "Shove" by L7 – 3:11
  6. "Drown Soda" by Hole – 3:50
  7. "Bomb" by Bush – 3:23
  8. "Roads" by Portishead – 5:04
  9. "Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love" by Joan Jett and Paul Westerberg (of The Replacements), music and lyrics by Cole Porter – 2:23
  10. "Thief" by Belly – 3:12
  11. "Aurora" by Veruca Salt – 4:03
  12. "Big Gun" by Ice-T – 3:54
Other songs in the film

The comics themselves, in keeping with their experimental and often metafictional nature, commonly featured "soundtrack suggestions", like The Vaselines, Senseless Things, and The Pastels.


  1. ^ Maslin, Janet (31 March 1995). "Movie Review - Tank Girl; Brash and Buzz-Cut Atop Her Beloved Tank". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "Tank Girl". British Board of Film Classification. 13 April 1995. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  3. ^ Tomaselli, Susan (20 April 2008). "stick ‘em up punks, it’s the fun lovin’ criminals". 3:AM Magazine. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  4. ^ Talalay, Rachel; Rosenberg, Bob. "Tank Girl Movie: The Outtakes". Tank Girl. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  5. ^ "A Q&A with Rachel Talalay". Nightmare on Elm Street Companion. 25 March 2005. Archived from the original on 31 December 2005. Retrieved 21 February 2010. 
  6. ^ Bates, John K (December 1994). "Tank Girl Stomps Hollywood". Wired. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  7. ^ Jones, Doug. "Meet the Rippers ... From Drawing Board to Silver Screen". The Doug Jones Experience. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  8. ^ Frank Wynne (1995). The Making of Tank Girl. Titan Books. ISBN 978-1-85286-621-1. 
  9. ^ Evangelatos, Steve. "Steve Evangelatos Bio". Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  10. ^ "Tank Girl". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  11. ^ "Tank Girl". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger (31 March 1995). "Tank Girl review". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  13. ^ "Alan Martin on Tank Girl". sci-fi online. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  14. ^ Fairs, Marcus (June 2006). "Jamie Hewlett interview". Icon Magazine. Archived from the original on 24 March 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2010. 
  15. ^ Volmers, Eric (6 March 2014). "The blu-ray redemption of Tank Girl: Director Rachel Talalay talks about her 1995 cult film’s handsome rebirth on DVD". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  16. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (14 April 1995). "Tank Girl review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 

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