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In director Marvin J. Chomsky's 1984 comedy, Tank, we meet Sergeant Major Zack Carey (James Garner), a lifelong military man finishes up his final tour of duty, stationed at a military base in an unnamed state in the American south. After a hard day's work one day, Zack opts to go off base and him himself a well-earned mug of cold beer, and when he does, he winds up in an altercation when he sees a local prostitute named Sarah (Jenilee Harrison) beaten up by the town deputy who also happens to be a lousy pool player. Zack tries to make peace with the law man but he's not having any of it, and soon enough, Zack gives him a sock to the jaw and knocks the cop out.
One day later, and Sheriff Buelton (G.D. Spradlin) shows up at Sarah's place and she winds up getting beaten a second time. Around the same time, he frames Zack's son Billy (C. Thomas Howell) on a hopped up drug charge which lands the young man in jail. Zack and his wife, LaDonna (Shirley Jones), are not happy about this. The Sheriff lets Zack know that if he wants his son out of jail without charges he's going to have to hand over ten grand in cold, hard cash. When Zack shows up with the money, the Sheriff changes his tune and says it's too late! They've already had a speedy little mini-trial, found Billy guilty and sent him off to a creepy work camp to do his time. The Sheriff now wants $10k a year to keep Billy safe from the pedophiles that run the place, and that's the final straw.
See, Zack has an advantage in this situation that the Sheriff didn't see coming: he has a Sherman tank of his very own, and he isn't afraid to use it to set wrongs right and save his kid.
It's rare that a film involving a tank is resolved with a tug-of-war at the end, but here we are with Tank to prove to us in no uncertain terms that this actually did happen once, way back in 1984. It's a seriously goofy movie, never meant to be taken at all seriously and definitely requiring a whole lot of suspension of disbelief, but if you can suspend said disbelief, you're in for a dopey good time with this movie. Chomsky and company could probably have trimmed fifteen-minutes or so and made for a more tightly paced film, but even as it is, Tank moves at a pretty good clip and keeps the gags and jokes coming at a good enough clip that we don't get bored.
To be blunt, however, most of the film's charm comes from James Garner. He is well cast here and his likeable, easy going demeanor suits the character of Zack quite well. Zack tries to solve things calmly and rationally, even giving in to the first ransom demand, but once he realizes that rational isn't going to work here, he's tough enough to bring out the tank and use it. Seeing Garner drive around in a tank is… funny. Just the concept alone is amusing. Granted, this, of course, leads to scores of gags, some of which work and just as much of which don't, but if the film's main concept is little more than ‘hey let's put James Garner in a tank and have him mess with bad cops' at least that concept proves to be one that offers up some goody, easygoing laughs and amusing moments without ever asking too much of those watching it.
Tank arrives on Region A Blu-ray from Kino in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. The feature looks pretty nice here, detail is quite strong here, if rarely reference quality, and there are no issues with any noise reduction or edge enhancement related problems. The picture is very clean from start to finish, you'll be pretty hard pressed to find any print damage here of note. Skin tones look good, black levels are fine.
A 16-bit English language DTS-HD option is provided in 2.0 Stereo format with subtitles offered up in English only. The lossless track is of perfectly nice quality, with nicely balanced levels and clean sounding dialogue. The score also sounds nice. No issues here.
Extras start off with an audio commentary by entertainment journalist and author Bryan Reesman. He covers all of the bases here, going over Marvin Chomsky's career, talking up Lalo Schifrin's score, offering plenty of detail about Garner's life and times and providing lots of detail about the production's history alongside his own personal thoughts on the film's effectiveness. It's all done in a pleasant and personable manner that makes it easy to listen to.
Additionally, the disc includes radio spots and a trailer for tank as well as menus and chapter selection options.
Tank is really a showcase for James Garner's charm and acting ability. If you like Garner's style, you'll get a kick out of this, and if you don't, then you're far less likely to enjoy the movie. Personally, I thought it was a good bit of fun and a fine piece of breezy, eighties comedy. Kino's Blu-ray
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.