Showtime rolls its "Royce" sluggishly out of the driveway, and the lack of a high-octane script keeps this action-thriller comedy from opening full throttle.

Showtime rolls its “Royce” sluggishly out of the driveway, and the lack of a high-octane script keeps this action-thriller comedy from opening full throttle.

Shayne Royce is given a blue-collar interp by Jim Belushi, but cheap jokes and dumb one-liners at the wrong times — like during a Bosnian shoot-‘em-up mission — take away from some of telepic’s strong action.

There’s a nice foreign look and feel to this international story (with Budapest serving as Ukraine). Of note in the efficient supporting cast is Miguel Ferrer as Ken Gribbon, the leader of a group of disgruntled secret agents who decide to kidnap a senator’s son in order to secure classified information on Russian nuclear warheads. Royce is offered a chance to join the AWOL CIA folks, but he declines and eventually chases them down.

Peter Boyle plays Royce’s boss with a sour look on his face, a sharp contrast to happy-go-lucky Royce.

Ferrer gives the strongest perf as the turncoat spy who now works for himself and sets his sights on a $ 60 million payoff for the nuclear arms he’s trying to swipe.

Like Boyle, Ferrer provides Bondesque moments that help to counter the production’s faults. But in the long run, director Rod Holcomb is saddled with a schizophrenic script that is caught between comedy and spy intrigue.

Belushi is pretty good as a spy. His character, sans the attempts at comedy, could be the basis of a first-class vehicle.

Royce

(Sun. (3), 9-10:37 p.m., Showtime)

Production

Filmed in Toronto and Budapest by Gerber/ITC Prods. in association with Showtime. Exec producers, David Gerber, Paul Bernbaum; producers, Royce Harman, Paul Quigley; director, Rod Holcomb; writer, Bernbaum.

Crew

Camera, Tom Del Ruth; editor, Christopher Nelson; art director, Jennifer Carroll; sound, Peter Shewchuk; music, Stanley Clarke.

Cast

Cast: Jim Belushi, Peter Boyle, Miguel Ferrer, Chelsea Fields, Michael J. Shannon, Jonathan Gabb, Elizabeth Gann, Paris Jefferson, Anthony Head, Michael Halsey, Chris Fairbank, James Purcell, William Marsh, Ralph Ineson, Pete McNamara, Susan Denaker, James McKenna, Chrissie Reggiero, Marie Theodore, Danny Kash, Jacob Thompson, William Hope, Roy Lewis, James Kidnie, Alan Feinman, Peter Linka, Fon Gabriella, Borbely Laso, Corey Sholnick, Takacsi Gizzella, Richard Rifkin, Abdras Balland, Bubek Istvan, Jaki Bela, Peter Linka.
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