Touting itself as an update of Machiavelli's same-named blueprint for success, this upward-mobility drama is a fairly gripping expose of blind ambition. But it coasts too much on the gimmick of adapting Machiavelli's strategies for the 1990s, and would have benefited from sharper
direction and a more consistently mordant tone.
Executive Roy Timmons (Michael Riley) is up to his new job of revitalizing the Gally Toy Co. in every way but one: he lacks the proper degree of suspicion of his ambitious co-workers, particularly V.P. Marshall Stern (Henry Silva) and Stern's manipulative account executive, and bedmate, Ruth Di
Marco (Alex Morrison).
While keeping several office cut-throats at bay and fending off Ruth's attempts to replace him, Roy acquires a mentor in nearby bar owner Jamie Hicks (Billy Dee Williams). Teaching Roy the intricacies of one-upmanship, Jamie suggests proposing Ruth for a transfer and fudging sales figures. With
the financial finagling of his friend and Gally Co. accountant Ted (Duane Taniguchi), Roy fakes a red ink crisis which he then solves to his advantage. But Roy is forced to fire Ted when a suspicious Ruth starts sniffing around for info.
Buoyed by his new aggressiveness, Roy starts neglecting his wife and indulging in recreational drugs. He is beaten by some street thugs, whom he believes are hird by Stern. Under the influence of drugs, a paranoid Roy shoots Stern; wounding him. Regretting his action, he rushes off to dial 911.
Ruth, who's been waiting in the shadows, fatally shoots Stern and leaves evidence pointing to Roy. Roy is arrested and Ruth is promoted to CEO, the end result of a master plan put into action by Ruth and her father--Jamie.
THE PRINCE is a modest drama fueled by the bloodsport of corporate politics. It's fun to watch Roy learn to swim with the sharks, even if the film doesn't sufficiently camouflage Jamie Hick's hidden agenda. More suspense would have been engendered if the character of Roy weren't so naive; he's too
clearly out of his league in these white-collar Olympics. Despite a few plot zingers, the scenario falls into place too neatly in chronicling Roy's rise and fall. The film deserves a snappier pace; it's weighed down by too many bull sessions between Roy and his conscienceless advisor. As a formal
exercise in civilized betrayal, THE PRINCE just misses being royally entertaining. (Violence, extreme profanity, extensive nudity, substance abuse.)
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