When the first trailers for Netflix’s “They Cloned Tyrone” were released, it appeared to be a project set apart from the usual streaming service offerings. The film promised stylish blaxploitation entertainment, complete with a compelling plot and a star-studded cast. Initial foreign reviews were promising, with a 92% approval rating and a solid 7.1 score, indicating that Netflix might have one of its films of the year. However, the final product falls into familiar Netflix territory, although perhaps in an unconventional way.
The story takes us to the rough black suburb of Glen, where we meet a trio of unlikely heroes: Fontaine, a fearless drug dealer; Slick Charles, his talkative customer; and Yo-Yo, a prostitute. One night, Fontaine is shot by a rival but inexplicably wakes up the next day as if nothing happened. This leads our trio on a quest to uncover a government conspiracy and the unsettling revelation that there may be more than one Fontaine in Glen.
The filmmakers’ intentions are clear: they aimed to create a stylish blend of blaxploitation films and dark humor, with a dash of social commentary à la Jordan Peele. While director Juel Taylor successfully captures the blaxploitation atmosphere and offers a serviceable sci-fi plot, he falls short of replicating Peele’s finesse. Jamie Foxx, John Boyega, and Teyonah Parris deliver commendable performances that elevate the film to average status, but these are small victories in an overall disjointed genre blend.
Taylor seems to struggle with defining the film’s direction, resulting in a mix of genres that fails to excel in any particular one. The script, promising at first, unravels in the final third, compromising logic and descending into B-grade territory. This is problematic, especially when the film attempts to offer smart social commentary but ends up sounding trite and one-dimensional. Despite the actors’ best efforts, the trio’s lack of likability leaves the audience questioning who to root for.
“They Cloned Tyrone” indeed stands out from most Netflix productions, but not in the way one would hope. Although the creators aspire to make a stylish spectacle with a unique voice, their execution falls short. The film’s failure to cohesively blend its promising elements suggests that while effort is commendable, it’s sometimes not enough
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