They Cloned Tyrone
After Tyrone Fontaine (John Boyega) is tragically shot outside the motel Slick Charles (Jamie Foxx) regularly utilises as his pimping headquarters, he is speechless to find him alive and well the following day. Slick, his main girl Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris) and the seemingly unscathed Fontaine collaborate to unravel the mystery and come upon an unnerving and mysterious circumstance that appears to explain Fontaine’s miraculous survival. In a world full of conspiracies and deprivation, it is down to a prostitute, a pimp and a drug dealer to foil this government plot before the world around them changes beyond repair.
Fontaine feels he is being messed with by the government and throughout the film so do we. Debut director Juel Taylor does a fabulous job in slowly lifting the lid to this box of secrets, feeding us the truth concurrently with our heroes. Funky, groovy, stylish and funny are all fitting descriptions for the imaginative project that is They Cloned Tyrone, but through all the light-heartedness, the movie maintains a chilling core.
The feature was conceived as a genre-bending tribute to the Blaxploitation films of the 1970s, ones that featured science fiction, mystery and absurd humour, and like other modern movies such as Sorry to Bother You, They Cloned Tyrone takes full advantage of this. One moment the movie feels like an acid trip, the next we are transported into a film noir investigation. The sound mixing, the visual journey, the costumes and the dialogue all suggest that this story takes place slightly outside reality. Even the year is presented with total ambiguity.
A powerhouse cast is put to work in this two-hour adventure, and they undeniably deliver. Foxx is let loose and free to release his comically maniacal side – think his Baby Driver appearance cranked up to 100 – and Boyega and Parris also throw themselves into their characters. It is not always clear why the three protagonists are doing what they do, but given how much of a Jackson Pollock this screenplay could have been were it not for their performances and character traits, we can turn a blind eye to this.
Despite some of its clever social commentary being hindered by the implausibility of certain out-of-this-world plot points, and a slightly too neat conclusion accompanying this, They Cloned Tyrone is nonetheless one of Netflix’s best and most comically entertaining offerings in recent memory. Let’s hope this is a sign that the “less is more” approach from the streamer is beginning to pay off, with higher-quality productions coming out of the pipeline.
They Cloned Tyrone is released on Netflix on 21st July 2023.
Watch the trailer for They Cloned Tyrone here: