Fastlane

Sex, thugs and rock & roll fuel Fox's "Fastlane," a hyperactive action series that will have some people praising its artistry and others reaching for the remote to turn down the volume -- at the very least. Comicbook violence, hard bodies and quick-quip rapport between its leads are the main attractions here.

With:
Van Ray - Peter Facinelli Deaquon Hayes - Bill Bellamy Billie Chambers - Tiffani Thiessen

Sex, thugs and rock & roll fuel Fox’s “Fastlane,” a hyperactive action series that will have some people praising its artistry and others reaching for the remote to turn down the volume — at the very least. Comicbook violence, hard bodies and quick-quip rapport between its leads are the main attractions here, and there’s actually little competition from other networks for the videogame demo it so breathlessly courts — and should win over without a problem. Casual viewers, however, will watch “Charlie’s Angels” director and musicvid vet McG’s TV debut and roll their eyes at the ludicrously staged stunts, the overdose on attitude and the terrible dialogue. Chill out.

Certainly one of the most hyped freshmen this fall, “Fastlane” fills the bill if what auds hanker for is velocity: The cars are speedy, the girls are racy, and the editing is intense. It’s also stylish, with terrific technique popping up in several of the scenes whether it be quick cuts or stop-motion sequences or an overall look that carries its own against some of the lousy bigscreen thrillers of days gone by.

What it lacks is a soul, something to take it beyond the realm of shoot-’em-ups that wink their way through their frenzied hours. In almost every tete-a-tete, stars Peter Facinelli and Bill Bellamy discharge Quentin Tarantino-like pop culture discussions that probably seemed hip at the time to scribe John McNamara, but for the most part, “Fastlane’s” words (“We’re gonna catch champagne crooks on a beer budget”) are impressively silly.

Pilot intros Van (Facinelli) and his partner Andre (Vondie Curtis-Hall) at a raceway, staking out a drug deal that goes deadly. After Andre is killed by a sniper’s fire as the notes exchange hands, Van gets away, but so does the lovely lady on the other side of the transaction (Jennifer Sky), a lusty blonde who steals the suitcase full of cash.

Van’s been instructed to get that money back, all while mourning the loss of his colleague, who is survived by his New York City brother, Deaquon (Bellamy). A detective who is now brought out to L.A. to buddy up in an attempt to catch the killer, he initially doesn’t trust Van — Deaquon thinks he might be in on the hit — but eventually warms up to him with the help of Billie Chambers (Tiffany Thiessen), a lieutenant who recruits the pair to become covert dudes while using high-tech, high-octane tools stashed away in a place cheekily called the Candy Store.

Bang isn’t missing, but brains are hard to come by, especially considering Facinelli and Bellamy are young enough to be rookies. Whereas another L.A. cop drama, “The Shield,” is just as visual and vibrant and there’s a reality mixed in that makes everything happening seem plausible, “Fastlane” highlights the difference between quality and quantity as it attempts to grab the masses instead of honing the final product until there’s some amount of credibility.

Biggest red flag is the whole notion that these two would have access to a hoard of hardware that even “XXX” hero Vin Diesel would covet. Like the Macy’s of deadly machinery, “secret” warehouse is like a church jammed with firepower and is just plain ridiculous.

Facinelli, who slightly resembles Tom Cruise, preens and swaggers, goatee and rock-hard abs glistening. He carries “Fastlane,” while Bellamy, who shot to fame as an MTV veejay, is adequate but doesn’t quite have the chops for a project that requires more edge than he can muster. (Either way, they’re a weak version of the Malik Yoba/Michael DeLorenzo tandem in Fox’s 1994-’97 “New York Undercover.”) Even more troubling, Thiessen is totally miscast; she just doesn’t strike the right note as a worldly operative who can take down America’s most wanted.

Back alleys and beaches are a big part of “Fastlane’s” creative and panoramic view of Los Angeles, and rockin’ musical selections add a loud pulse.

Fastlane

Series; Fox; Wed. Sept. 18, 9 P.M.

Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by McNamara Paper Products, Wonderland Sound and Vision and Warner Bros. Television. Executive producers, McG, John McNamara, Daniel Rappaport; director, McG; writer, McNamara;

Crew: camera, Ramsey Nickell; production designer, Carlos Barbosa; editor, Norman Buckley; music, Cameron Allan, Charlie Clouser; casting, Barbara Miller, Kevin Scott. 60 MIN.

Cast: Van Ray - Peter Facinelli Deaquon Hayes - Bill Bellamy Billie Chambers - Tiffani ThiessenWith: Jennifer Sky, Craig Sheffer, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Isaac Hayes.

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