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The odds of survival in this desolate, unforgiving universe are a thousand to one. That's just the way she likes it.

The year is 2033, and it isn't pretty. A wasteland of bleak desert and relentless sun, a hard ribbon of azure sky punctuated by eerie white dunes. The devastated aftermath of a cosmic cataclysm that has robbed the earth it of its life-giving resource, water. That simple compound that has become the world's most valuable currency in a dangerous society, populated by mutants, killers and thieves. Water is power and the Water and Power Company, headed by the ruthless CEO, Kesslee, has it.

When it comes to embracing camp, there's no halfway point. To be successful in this arena, a movie must turn its back on even the semblance of conventionality, expressing everything from the most insignificant line of dialogue to a climactic event with an irreverence that would make the Monty Python troupe members offer winks and nudges of appreciation. It is because Tank Girl takes this approach that it germinates into a high-spirited, madcap example of film making run amok. Certainly, this movie isn't art, but it sure is fun.

Film adaptations of comic books have become nearly as prevalent as those based on Stephen King stories. In some cases (The Crow, The Mask), they work reasonably well. In others (Tales from the Crypt), the results are disastrous. None, however, not even Jim Carrey's special effects tour de force, have gone to the extremes visited by Tank Girl. Nothing is sacred -- this movie pushes the envelope as far as it will go, and the result is an offbeat and energized juxtaposition of action and comedy. This is the kind of tone that films like Hudson Hawk, Last Action Hero, and Demolition Man tried in vain to capture.

It's the mixture of seeming spontaneity and a total lack of seriousness that fuels whatever success Tank Girl has. The name of the game is outrageousness, and the script never attempts anything that might damage it. There is no characterization to speak of, and the plot is simply a nonsensical piece of fluff upon which to drape so much excess. And just when you think things can't get sillier, something happens to change your mind, whether it's the insertion of oddly- rendered animated sequences, a bizarre rendition of Cole Porter's "Let's Do It", or Lori Petty's title character sporting a brassiere that would make Madonna gasp with envy.

Tank Girl takes place in a post-apocalyptic future. In this scenario, the Earth-devastating disaster was a comet strike, and it has left most of the globe in ruins and water in short supply. There are three types of survivors: members of an organization called Water and Power, small bands of nomads who won't submit to authority, and the mysterious and deadly Rippers. Rebecca (Lori Petty), aka "Tank Girl", is a member of a renegade faction in the Blue Dunes. When Water and Power troops arrive, they kill everybody except Rebecca and a little girl called Sam (Stacy Linn Rawsower). While the girl is sent to work in a strip joint, Rebecca is granted a personal audience with Kesslee (Malcolm McDowell), the leader of Water and Power.

Kesslee wants Rebecca to join his forces. When she refuses, she's put to work in a labor comp. While looking for a way to escape, Rebecca meets another ill-treated woman (Naomi Watts). Together, the pair search for a way out of Water and Power's fortress while Kesslee plots how to use Rebecca to uncover the secret entrance to the lair of the Rippers -- the vicious and hitherto untouchable group of "demons" that routinely slaughter Water and Power troops.

Given her bleached blond punk hairdo and ever-perky expression, Lori Petty is an inspired choice for Tank Girl. She gets all the right inflections on the one-liners and doesn't know the meaning of the term "reserve". Malcolm McDowell, the consummate over-the-top villain, displays a far more delectable nastiness here than in Star Trek Generations. This bad guy is someone to root against. Naomi Watts is appealing as Tank Girl's sidekick and Ice T is virtually unrecognizable as the Ripper T-Saint.

With a breakneck, don't-bother-to-stop-and-think-about-it pace, Tank Girl zips along for over one-hundred moments, only occasionally lapsing from its zaniness. The rock-and-rap soundtrack, supervised by Courtney Love-Cobain, invigorates certain scenes, and blends nicely with the visuals. Judging by the finished product, it's pretty clear that director Rachel Talalay achieved her vision. Tank Girl is one of those chew-the-popcorn, munch-the-candy flicks - - the kind you go into expecting to have a good time, but nothing more. Given those expectations, disappointment is as unlikely as boredom.

Hi, my name is Tank Girl - video