I went into Netflix's latest movie They Cloned Tyrone without any expectations, but this turned out to be one of the best original films the platform has come out with this year. The film is a unique blend -- quirky, mysterious and funny. It's a blaxploitation throwback set in modern times with a sci-fi twist and is definitely thought-provoking.
They Cloned Tyrone is directed by Juel Taylor (Creed II) and stars John Boyega, Jamie Foxx and Teyonah Parris as an unlikely trio on the trail of a nefarious and mysterious government conspiracy. Boyega plays Fontaine, a drug dealer who's trying to make a living in an impoverished neighbourhood known as the Glenn. After meeting a local pimp named Slick Charles (Foxx), Fontaine is shot and killed by a rival drug gang, only to mysteriously come alive the next day. This startles Slick Charles and sex worker Yo-Yo (Parris) who decide to work with Fontaine to find out what happened to him. As they investigate, they gradually uncover a cloning conspiracy that turns out to be bigger than any of them can imagine.
The aesthetics of the film stand out. The story takes place in an economically depressed area where characters wear clothing and drive cars that feel a bit out of place. There's a 1970s feel to the set, but the technology is current. This movie looks like it was shot on film as there's a good deal of grain giving it an older feel.
For the first 20 minutes or so, I didn't have any clue of what was going on or what direction the story was going to take. We meet Fontaine, a tough no-nonsense figure. He's a bit brutal and maybe even ruthless at times, but he also has some charisma that begins to grow. However, the other characters are different in terms of personality, though that's not a bad thing. Parris is great as the sassy prostitute Yo-Yo who tries to keep the male characters under control. And Jamie Foxx as Slick Charles is the best character in the movie. He's basically the polar opposite of Fontaine since he's pretty loony. Every dialogue of his is funny and memorable, and he contributes to solving the mystery without coming off as a complete clown. The chemistry of the trio is fun in their own way which makes the movie work as well as it does. Every character plays to each other's strengths, and all play a part in helping them make sense of what's going on around them.
The mystery behind the cloning conspiracy is much better than I expected it to be as it manages to surpass the insanity of the premise and everything surrounding it. And it's actually well-paced and has a lot of suspense behind it. Clues are appropriately laid out in interesting ways and the characters come to realisations that never feel forced or phony. I feel this is a hard thing to pull off in any mystery movie. So, the fact that it's done so well here is a true testament to how well it's written. The film managed to be silly and clever at the same time. It literally involves an ordinary man finding himself in an absurd scenario that no one could possibly believe, and it's a ton of fun to see these things come together.
One of the highlights is the blaxploitation element. Admittedly, this is something I'm not quite as familiar with, but even just from looking at the visuals, it's clear where the movie gets its tone and influence from. Everything from funk music to the hairstyles and costumes to the film grain aesthetic all contribute to the visual identity.
Overall, They Cloned Tyrone is a quirky mystery comedy that will make the audience laugh as much as it will make them think. If you like mystery movies that have an element of humour behind them and want to watch one that's totally off the wall, check this out.
- They Cloned Tyrone
- Starring John Boyega, Teyonah Parris, Jamie Foxx
- Directed by Juel Taylor
- Now streaming on Netflix