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Assault Girls



From the basis of the trailer, "Assault Girls" looks like a lean, mean, fightin' machine with wall-to-wall battles and a high-BPM soundtrack.

Surprise! This is more like "? brace yourself, kids "? an elegiac tone poem, directed by Mamoru Oshii, who helmed the "Ghost in the Shell" anime.

Story is secondary "? if even that high up "? in this near-experimental film. Aside from the opening, seven-minute narration prologue, there's very little dialogue in the running time, allowing for its four characters to walk through a wasteland, dance and, at times, shoot giant sandworms that'll remind you of "Dune."

It takes place in a future time when what little people are left on Earth do little more than play immersive video war games. That's the activity of our titular heroines, played by the gorgeous Meisa Kuroki, Hinako Saeki and "Babel" Oscar nominee Rinko Kikuchi. They borrow a big gun from a male drifter to defeat a big monster. The end.

Almost nothing happens for its entirety, but the movie runs a scant 70 minutes with credits. It looks like a video game, but doesn't feel like one until the final chapter "? and, yes, "Assault Girls" is broken up into chapters.

More art-minded than action-oriented, the film is a wonder visually, but its lack of plotting "? or even a point "? leaves a bitter aftertaste. "?Rod Lott


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