What happens when a drug dealer, a pimp, and a sex worker stumble upon one of the biggest conspiracies involving mind control and cloning? Blaxploitation satire at its best is what! They Cloned Tyrone, the Netflix sci-fi comedy-thriller, is directed by writer-director Juel Taylor and co-written by Tony Rettenmaier. The main cast features Fontaine, portrayed by the talented John Boyega, the smooth-talking Slick Charles, played by Jamie Foxx, and the determined Yo-Yo, brought to life by Teyonah Parris.
They Cloned Tyrone centers on Fontaine, a drug dealer haunted by the death of his brother and estranged from his shut-in mother. After getting gunned down and presumably killed by a rival drug dealer, Fontaine wakes up the following day miraculously unharmed but with no memory of the incident. This moment sets off a series of mind-bending events. With the help of the smooth-talking pimp Slick Charles and Yo-Yo, a determined sex worker aiming to escape the Glen, this unlikely trio sets out to find answers and save their community from a sinister conspiracy involving a government cloning facility.
They Cloned Tyrone is a skillfully crafted original story by writer-director Juel Taylor from beginning to end. Although the pacing initially feels slow, I loved how the story takes its time to establish the daily lives of each main character to set the scene and environment of their community. Within the first few moments of the film, it’s clear every character is just trying to survive in their struggling community in their way.
The cinematography in this film is stunning, but I did have some minor issues with the lighting. However, the grainy visuals and retro soundtrack are reminiscent of classic 1970s blaxploitation films. The lighting during certain darkly set scenes makes it near impossible to see everything that is happening. These scenes are brief, so they only slightly affect the performance and story. The filmmakers took their time to interweave nostalgic vibes from the ’70s into They Cloned Tyrone. From the wardrobe, music, and set design elements, the film becomes a modern blaxploitation with modern touches. The melding of the two eras would be too juxtaposed and clash. Instead, it works exceptionally well for this film.
The film’s heart is Boyega, Foxx, and Parris’ performances and their on-screen chemistry with one another. Individually they are amazing, with each person carrying their weight in every scene while complimenting their counterparts. None of them is a weak link in this film. Foxx’s showy charisma and Parris’s determined spirit as Yo-Yo complement Boyega’s portrayal of the tortured Fontaine. Together, they create a compelling yet unlikely band of heroes that captivate the audience in every scene. This film and these characters would feel different because of Boyega, Foxx, and Parris’ pivotal roles.
They Cloned Tyrone strikes a good balance between comedic satire and poignant moments, skillfully delving into thought-provoking themes. Among these themes are the exploitation of the Black community, gentrification, the power of unity, questioning one’s life purpose, and the concept of valid free will. Some people might think it is challenging to examine and touch on many different themes, but this film manages to do so effortlessly.
One particularly noteworthy aspect of the film is its commentary on the role of structured religion in controlling minorities. I appreciate the film touching on how some individuals from marginalized communities are convinced through religion to embrace their oppressor’s message in hopes of assimilating to survive. This thought-provoking perspective adds depth to the narrative and sparks meaningful contemplation on the complexities of identity, resistance, and adaptation within oppressed groups.
I will warn audiences there are certain scenes and themes involving violence and sex that may be triggering and or too graphic for some audiences. However, it is not done for shock value and is conducive to the story.
They Cloned Tyrone is one of the best films of 2023. It has action, intrigue, and a refreshingly original story, making it a standout film this summer. This thrilling modern-day blaxploitation satire succeeds in weaving multiple through-provoking themes into its story. Everything from the talented cast of characters, set design, and musical score leaves a lasting impression. They Cloned Tyrone will leave audiences with laughter and deep contemplation by the end.
They Cloned Tyrone is available now exclusively on Netflix.
They Cloned Tyrone
They Cloned Tyrone is one of the best films of 2023. It has action, intrigue, and a refreshingly original story, making it a standout film this summer. This thrilling modern-day blaxploitation satire succeeds in weaving multiple through-provoking themes into its story.