Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Plot: A series of eerie events thrusts an unlikely trio onto the trail of a nefarious government conspiracy in this pulpy mystery caper.
Review: In doing my usual research before reviewing this I found out They Cloned Tyrone was actually made two years ago and only got a limited theatrical release before it was shuffled around to eventually end up on Netflix. And this is a damn shame because in a world of cinema overstuffed with franchises and banal sequels this unique mash-up of science fiction and blaxploitation movies from the 70s deserved to be seen by more than just Netflix subscribers.
Produced by Jamie Foxx (who also has a starring role) and directed by Juel Taylor, this clever and hilarious movie follows Fontaine (John Boyega from the Star Wars sequel trilogy) a hustler and drug dealer living in a community called The Glen. His day-to-day life is a wash-rinse-repeat of lifting weights, selling drugs and collecting monies owed. It’s the last one that has him searching The Glen for a pimp known as Slick Charles, played to witty perfection by Foxx, who always has a snappy one-liner for the ladies in his employ. And after collecting his payment, Fontaine is shot and killed by a rival dealer.
We then cut to him waking up in his bed as if nothing has happened. But after spotting a man that looks exactly like him being grabbed up by a black SUV and being told by a prostitute called Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris from WandaVision) that she saw him get shot, Fontaine realises something ain’t right in The Glen. With the reluctant help of Slick Charles and Yo-Yo the trio begin to uncover a conspiracy to top all conspiracies — someone cloned Tyrone!
Putting aside my love of sci-fi and old school blaxploitation movies like Foxy Brown, Shaft and Blackula (just to name a few), I would rewatch this movie just for the hilarious back and forth dialogue that takes place. Slick Charles is the kind of role tailor-made for someone like Jamie Foxx while Teyonah Parris gives as good as she gets with her take on the smarter-than-she-looks Yo-Yo. With both actors handling the major comedic bits, it’s left for Boyega to play the straight man which was reminiscent of his breakout role in Attack the Block, if only with a world-wearier delivery. But it’s not just these three that shine as I found everyone involved, whether they had pivotal roles or not, to be quite genuine, making The Glen feel like a real, albeit Twilight Zone take, on ghetto life.
Sadly, the third act doesn’t quite live up to the strong foundation that came before it and when we finally get to the exposition dump, courtesy a villainous Kiefer Sutherland, it feels like this ambitious tale might have bitten off more than it could chew. Still, strong cinematography lends to the otherworldliness of the story and with smart musical choices and a sense that there was always some clue being revealed either by background dialogue or the lyrics of the song being played, They Cloned Tyrone is a perfect fit for multiple viewings.
The inspiration from other films is there (you could tell how much this creative team enjoys classic movies with direct homage paid to the likes of A Clockwork Orange, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Groundhog Day and yes, The Matrix) but it’s the best movies that takes what came before and makes something fresh with it. They Cloned Tyrone might not be perfect, but it’s a must for folks who appreciate a movie that tries to think outside the box.
Sommer’s Score: 7 out of 10
And you can check out other cool genre mash-up content with black leads below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge-Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes. Double Tap Baby! Read More