Viewers can practically smell the burning rubber and smoldering leather in this latest installment of Showtime’s “Rebel Highway” series.
“Jailbreakers” teams GQ cover boy Tony Falcon (Antonio Sabato Jr.) with teen waif Angel (Shannen Doherty) for a roller-coaster ride brimming with bad-girl, bad-boy antics.
While Tony’s expected demise comes at show’s end, the ride getting there is fraught with conflict, goofy characters that at times border on a “Lords of Flatbush” parody, and car chases that allow veteran helmer William Friedkin to tap all of his favorite film devices.
There also are plenty of indignant adults riding herd on the exuberant youths , but they seem to be present just to make sure no demographic goes unrepresented.
Doherty plays her Angel to perfection as a demanding adolescent whose antics make her real-life antics look like a Disney spec.
When Angel seeks escape from her small-town Fresno surroundings, she hooks up with Tony, an amoral, drug-dealing dropout with no obvious skills.
A nighttime outing leads to trouble and lands Tony and Angel in the local pokey. Although Tony is the only one to pull lengthy prison time, Angel’s sentence is equally harsh: She is ostracized by her friends, which forces her family to move to new surroundings.
The family settles into idyllic tract-house suburbia, but the peace is soon shattered when Tony escapes from prison and surfaces at Angel’s Sweet 16 bash. The misfit spirits away the nubile cheerleader to Mexico in an effort to escape authorities, and the chase is on, with the cops and Angel’s dad (Vince Edwards) in hot pursuit.
The trip expectedly ends with Tony’s bloody fall at the border in a hail of gunfire reminiscent of the closing scene from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
Kudos to veteran actor Edwards, who delivers a strong performance worthy of his lengthy credit list, keeping the hysteria turned up as he prods the cops in their efforts to locate his daughter.
Friedkin pulls good work from all the cast, whose enjoyable perfs help save the tiresome rewrite of the 1957 version profferred by scripters Debra Hill and Gigi Vorgan.