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Film / Tank (1984)
aka: Tank

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Tank is a 1984 action-dramedy film starring James Garner, Shirley Jones and C. Thomas Howell. It also features James Cromwell and G. D. Spradlin as The Dragon and a Corrupt Cop, respectively.

Sergeant Major Zack Carey is nearing retirement as he arrives at a new army base in Georgia with his wife, son, and a vintage Sherman tank he’s been repairing. One night at a bar, he subdues a pimp/deputy from attacking a girl. When the corrupt sheriff Cyrus tries to intervene and uses Carey's son as revenge, Carey takes matters into his own hands, using the Sherman tank and get his family to Tennessee in order to escape the clutches of the wicked sheriff.

Tank has examples of:

  • A Father to His Men: Sgt. Major Zack Carey to his kid, and to other people's kids.
  • Anti-Vehicle: A Panzerschreck, a German anti-tank rocket launcher from World War II, is brought in by one of Buelton's posse to stop Carey's tank.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece:
    • The titular tank is a fully-functional, fully-armed World War II era Sherman tank that Sgt. Carey and his two sons Billy and Johnny had restored on their own time with resources from his base's motor pool.
    • Buelton returns the favor with a fully functioning and firing Panzerschreck, easily capable of penetrating the Sherman's armor.
  • Brutal Honesty: The biker gang decides to commandeer some heavy cable and a bulldozer in order to pull the tank over the state line. The driver of the cable truck comes up:
    Driver: "Hey, what're you guys doin'?"
    Biker: "Stealin'."
  • Calling Me a Logarithm: When Sheriff Buelton approached the General to request military support in apprehending Carey, only for the General to incite the Posse Comitatus Act. Buelton is initially confused when he said it, believing that he was calling the Sheriff a "Pussy Communist".
  • The Cavalry: Sgt. Carey and his tank on two occasions!
    • First when he breaks his son out of the prison farm!
    • Second when he comes to the rescue of a sympathetic man who supplied him with fuel and food out of spite for his nephews death on the farm and who is about to be lynched by a mob encouraged by Buelton.
  • Corrupt Cop: Sheriff Cyrus Buelton. And everyone else.
  • Dirt Forcefield: Works on Bill's skin, but not his clothing.
  • Dramedy: Carey's tank-enabled retribution against Buelton and his cronies has a lot of funny moments. The reason why he had to unleash said tank is not.
  • Good Ol' Boy: Cyrus. The trope is even referenced by name.
  • Good Policing, Evil Policing: The climactic scene has the corrupt sheriff see that the folks of a neighboring county are helping to pull Sergeant Major Zack Carey and his son Billy out of a mud flat. Not wanting to lose his fugitives, the sheriff orders his men to "fire into the crowd!" The neighboring deputies are honest, and won't stomach their unarmed citizens coming under fire. The honest deputies level their firearms at the sheriff's forces, and warn that firing into the crowd would turn the affair into "another Little Big Horn," with Buelton most likely playing the part of Custer. Carey and Billy make it over the county line into the custody of non-corrupt law enforcement.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Sarah.
  • Humiliation Conga: The second half of the film pretty much amounts to this for Sheriff Buelton, starting with his office being flattened by Carey's Sherman and ending with him landing face-down in the mud.
  • Kangaroo Court: The "trial" that Carey's son gets: In only a few hours the defense attorney is found in contempt of court and jailed, Carey's son is arraigned, tried, and sentenced to years of prison on felony drug charges, and immediately shipped off to prison later that same day.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: More like a Start Up The Tank Montage, but it still counts.
  • Military Brat: Bill and (the dead) John.
  • Military Maverick: Subverted; Carey is all for keeping the peace in the armed forces. Before he goes on his road trip, he resigns from the army, meaning it's now a strictly civilian matter. The army can't get involved.
  • Morton's Fork: The governor of Tennessee (the state to which Sergeant-Major Carey and his tank are trying to escape) faces one when confronted with the question of whether he'll fight Carey's extradition.
    Governor: If I say "yes", I'm harboring a fugitive. If I say "no", I've just shot Jesse James.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Carey forces Euclid, Buelton's cretinous deputy, to strip naked in public after he destroys the sheriff's station. The townsfolk find it hilarious.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Zack Carey is this in spades when he quietly asks for Deputy Euclid to stop slapping around Sarah and proceeds to beat him up when he just continues beating her up. He also disciplines one of his subordinate for beating up his own kid.
  • One-Man Army: Zack Carey takes on Buelton and his crooked police force across the entire state of Georgia all by himself, with the exception of his family.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Euclid emerges from inside the sheriff's station to find himself staring down the Sherman's barrel.
    Carey: I do believe I gotcha covered.
  • Out Living Ones Offspring:
    • Zack Carey's eldest son Jonathan ended up dying when he was in the army. His death deeply impacted the relationship Zack has with his remaining son Billy.
    • While traveling through Tennessee, Zack ends up stopping at a backwood gas station, whose operator Mr. Gant had a nephew who was interred at The Farm by Sheriff Buelton on false charges and wound up dying. Gant sympathized with Zack and helped him out by refilling the Sherman.
  • Papa Wolf: Shown zealously earlier on[ with Zack and Billy,[spoiler: then taken up to eleven when Zack uses his tank to break him out of jail]].
  • Pet the Dog: Sergeant Major Carey eating in the enlisted mens' mess seemingly performing a surprise inspection without prior informing the mess sergeant to prepare for inspection. Carey gets an earful from the mess sergeant (including a a boast on how he one time hosted Dwight D. Eisenhower) about breach of etiquette until he says he hates eating in the "NCO Country Club" and wanted to try the food at the enlisted men's mess since he heard good stories. After being told to try the apple cobbler, Carey voices his satisfaction and the mess sergeant tells his subordinate to get the sergeant major some seconds. Of course this could just be a sneaky way for Carey to perform a surprise inspection without being called out on it, either way the mess sergeant is satisfied.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Sheriff Buelton refers to Carey’s friend Tippet (who is black) as “boy” and advises Carey against getting “some Jew lawyer” to help Billy, among other slurs.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Sergeant, that's the best fuckin' apple cobbler I ever tasted." And in a PG movie, too. note 
  • Prison Rape: Implied that this will happen to Bill.
  • Small-Town Tyrant: Sheriff Buelton. He frames Carey's son for drug possession and cheating him out of his retirement money and forcing him to sell his recently-purchased boat.
  • Smug Snake: Sheriff Buelton, oh so very much, especially when showing Carey the work farm and just twisting the knife and gloating about the power he holds over him. This makes his Humiliation Conga all the more sweeter.
  • Tank Goodness: It's in the name.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer basically tells the whole story.
  • Vanilla Edition: Loading this DVD into your player's tray is like inserting a VHS tape into your VCR. There isn't even a menu. It just starts playing the movie.
  • Was It Really Worth It?
  • Wife-Basher Basher: Carey informs one of his subordinates in explicit terms that he can't beat up his wife, he needs to get counseling, and if he does it again, nothing, not the stockade or loss of his pension, will stop him. "I will destroy you in place."
  • Would Hit a Girl: Euclid and Sheriff Buelton slap around Sarah and beat her with a belt, respectively. It’s the former incident that triggers the events of the film.

Alternative Title(s): Tank