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They Cloned Tyrone Movie Review (Spoiler Free)

It’s the return of blaxploitation! Taylor’s directorial debut is a unique conspiracy flick, with quirky characters & a hilariously dry comedy.
They Cloned Tyrone

Genre: Comedy / Mystery / Sci-Fi

Director: Juel Taylor

Cast: John Boyega, Teyonah Parris, Jamie Foxx, Kiefer Sutherland, J. Alphonse Nicholson, Tamberla Perry, Trayce Malachi & Leon Lamar.

Run Time: 124 min.

US Release: 14 July 2023 (limited release)

UK Release: 21 July 2023 (Netflix)

German Release: 21 July 2023 (Netflix)

Another month, another Netflix release. Although, to everyone’s surprise, this isn’t the usual quantity dump on the streaming giant’s servers. Instead, we are treated to an ambitiously smart, dark-humoured, sci-fi mystery that caught my attention thanks to its ingenious title, as well as its trippy, yellow shining poster. A homage to the blaxploitation era of the seventies, this is a fun summer streamer worth its time! So, throw on your lab coats, grab your safety goggles, and dive into my review for… They Cloned Tyrone!


A mismatched trio investigate a series of eerie events, becoming ever more entangled in a nefarious government conspiracy, lurking directly underneath their hood.


A drug dealer, a prostitute and a pimp investigate their neighbourhood. No, this is not the beginning of a joke, it is the actual plot of Taylor’s directorial debut. Elaborated by Tony Rettenmaier, as well as the director himself, the screenplay is extremely well written, giving audiences food for afterthoughts long after watching the movie. The story meshes the late seventies Blaxploitation theme, with a futuristic sci-fi atmosphere.


Dark, dry comedic threads are webbed around a dramatic conspiracy, which serves as a clever metaphor for the racial discrimination and the social injustice that many African American neighbourhoods need to endure in the US. Further, it addresses issues of oppression, as well as cultural appropriation. These heavy subjects are easier to digest thanks to some humorous, modern, pop-cultural references. All of these combinations made for an unusual viewing experience, with unpredictable twists.


However, I do confess that the first fifteen-to-twenty minutes are a little hard to get into, as it feels like the plot is progressing at a particularly slow pace, with little interesting happening. This changes once the mystery element kicks in.


The humour is carried mainly through the banter between the three main personas. Though silly plus over-the-top, the dialogue always sounded organic to the setting.


The three lead characters couldn’t be more different but have impeccable chemistry thanks to some brilliant acting by the main cast. The supporting actors give equally amazing renditions, bringing the hood to life.


John Boyega portrays the lead Fontaine, a drug-dealing gangster, with a cold, indifferent demeanour, that includes trust issues. Boyegas gives a performance unlike any we have seen so far, using different perspectives in characteristics, thanks to a script that allows it. He is spectacular, bringing back that roughness we saw him display in Attack the Block.


Teyonah Parris gives another astonishing performance, as prostitute Yo-Yo. The character tries to justify her occupation as being a means to an end, with plans of leaving the Hood as soon as she saves up enough money. She is the brains of the group, outsmarting the other two! Parris gives Yo-Yo an electric magnetism, with people automatically gravitating towards her.


Jamie Foxx is the show-stealer in this mystery dramedy! He plays pimp Slick Charles, a down-on-his-luck “entrepreneur”. Foxx, is charismatic and energetically extroverted, giving his persona of Slick authenticity, just like a lot of likeability. Foxx was rushed to the hospital for a medical emergency a couple of months ago, going through rehabilitation therapy for the last couple of weeks. We hope he is feeling better, wishing him a further speedy recovery.


Finally, we have Kiefer Sutherland in a type of “Man in Black” government role. Though limited in screentime, he managed to leave an impression of danger.


Technically, They Cloned Tyrone is superbly creative. The picture has a graininess, suiting the cinematic era it tries to emulate, the camera uses solid framing and depth of field. The lighting is well balanced, yet most important is the colour palette, using a golden-brownish hue for the surrounding setting of the hood, cold metallic colours for secret government facilities, all of which contrast with intense, popping colours for different people.


The effects seem to be mostly practical, with a couple of digital touches. The production value is retro, clashing with modern dialogue. The costume design, hair, plus makeup are on point, reflecting a modern version of the late seventies era, staying true to the characters’ occupations and personalities through colour coding.


The soundtrack, composed by the duo Desmond Murray/Pierre Charles, is culturally representative, adding flair to the story.

 

Verdict: Juel Taylor’s first directed film is a daring one, merging themes of Blaxploitation, bizarre science-fiction, plus conspiracy mysteries. The screenplay is provocative and includes an important message about racial discrimination, expressed through the use of sarcasm, absurdity, just like black humour. The dialogue is extravagant but suits the tone of the movie. The three leads have electric chemistry; Boyega plays the stoic gangster, Parris is charming as the prostitute with brains, yet it is Jamie Foxx who steals the show, as the eccentric, smooth-talking pimp. The supporting cast is equally great, giving the hood of Glen some cultural nuances. The cinematography is beautifully creative, the imagery is grainy, and the set design represents the late seventies. However, it is the colour that stands out, as every character has been appointed one, to express their personalities. In the end, They Cloned Tyrone is a Netflix production I am going to be thinking about for a longer time. As such, it deserves an 8.0 out of 10.


Did you already see this Netflix film? If not, it is a watch I highly recommend. Let me know what you thought & as always, thank you for reading!


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