You could do the same story, minus the clone. Just have Shinzon be a Romulan equivalent of Picard. One of the Romulans best and brightest, a reasonable man, a diplomat that's just out to take care of his people. But still Romulan at his core. A Romulan out to protect the Empire, whose only loyalty is the Empire, not who sits on the throne.
Hardy was excellent in the movie. But he was handicapped with a shite script and production values.