They Cloned Tyrone came completely out of left field for me, in the best possible way. Netflix doesn’t always have the best track record for quality original films, but this is something special. It’s genre-bending in the best possible way: comedy, sci-fi, thriller, mystery, and Blaxploitation all rolled into one wild adventure. It also features a tremendous performance from John Boyega and fantastic supporting characters from Teyonah Parris and Jamie Foxx; the trio makes the film with their fantastic chemistry.
They Cloned Tyrone follows our main character Fontaine, a drug dealer in the predominantly Black neighborhood called the Glen. Fontaine has been through a lot in his life, from losing his little brother to dealing with a mother who shuts herself off from the world. One day, he squares up with a rival dealer and later gets ambushed and killed.
Somehow, Fontaine wakes up again the next morning with no memory of what happened. He teams up with Slick Charles (Jamie Foxx) and Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris), a pimp and prostitute who saw him killed to uncover the truth about what happened. However, they uncover more than they bargained for by uncovering a secret government project using their neighborhood as a giant test subject.
My biggest critique of the film is the pacing. It starts to drag a little bit in the second half, but once the third act kicks in it’s a wild ride until the very end. That being said, it’s a terrific directorial debut for Juel Taylor, who also wrote the script with Tony Rettenmmaier. They Cloned Tyrone also features some impressive technical work. The cinematography is stylish and atmospheric, and the special effects are well-done. The soundtrack is a big highlight, featuring a mix of classic soul and hip-hop tracks.
John Boyega gives a powerful performance as Fontaine; it’s unlike anything you’ve seen him do before. He is a commanding presence on screen and truly gets to shine in this role. There are many layers to it with a surprising twist at the end that showcases his acting ability. Honestly, at this point in the year, I would consider it an Academy Award-worthy performance, at least for a nomination.
The supporting cast is fantastic as well. Teyonah Parris showcases a completely different side of herself and goes all out as Yo-Yo, a prostitute with a heart of gold that just wants a better life for herself. Jamie Foxx is having the time of his life as Slick Charles; he’s an absolute scene-stealer and his character has more depth than he lets on.
Overall, I would say that They Cloned Tyrone is a must-watch this weekend, joining the company of Barbie and Oppenheimer. It’s a well-made, entertaining film that offers a thought-provoking look at race and identity in the 21st century. They Cloned Tyrone is sure to please fans of science fiction, comedy, and social commentary. This is the type of film that Netflix needs to commit to making: an original, high-quality film that audiences can both enjoy and learn something from.