Skip to Content

‘They Cloned Tyrone’ puts a fresh spin on the paranoid conspiracy thriller

<i>Parrish Lewis/Netflix</i><br/>Jamie Foxx
Parrish Lewis/Netflix
Jamie Foxx

Review by Brian Lowry, CNN

(CNN) — Sure to draw additional attention because of questions surrounding Jamie Foxx’s health, “They Cloned Tyrone” turns out to be buzzworthy on its own with its conspiracy-minded, sci-fi-tinged twist on who might really be pulling the strings in urban neighborhoods. Slow to start, the movie taps into a genre of “What’s behind the curtain?” paranoia that’s provocative, if a little slim on detail.

Foxx co-stars opposite John Boyega (continuing a run of indie-style films after his “Star Wars” stint) and Teyonah Parris (of the upcoming “The Marvels”) in a story that turns a pimp, drug dealer and sex worker, respectively, into not only reluctant heroes but amateur detectives.

That plot gets set in motion when Fontaine (Boyega) goes to demand money that’s owed to him by Slick Charles (Foxx), who’s in the company of his employee, Yo-Yo (Parris). Leaving the premises, Fontaine is ambushed by a revenge-minded rival, in what looks like a conclusively fatal encounter.

The next day, though, Fontaine is back as if nothing happened, with no memory regarding what transpired. The mystery launches him, Charles and Yo-Yo into what she overtly refers to as “Nancy Drew” mode, leading down a rabbit hole that ties into old suspicions – and other works of science fiction, such as director John Carpenter’s “They Live” – about ways the ruling classes and institutions might be trying to keep the rest of the population docile.

The director (and co-writer with Tony Rettenmaier) is Juel Taylor, a TV veteran who brings a subversive energy to the movie once the narrative kicks into gear. Part of that involves setting the action in a vague, never-identified time frame, with styles resembling ’70s Blaxploitation movies before the story takes its off-kilter turn.

As is so often true in these instances, the revelations leave almost as many questions as they answer, but there’s enough meat on those bones to establish the nature of the threat and provide a solid showcase for the characters, with Parris largely stealing the show.

Even with its core cast and their ties to various blockbusters, “They Cloned Tyrone” is the kind of movie that would have likely struggled to garner much attention minus the Foxx factor, and premiering on Netflix (for whom Foxx has already done a pair of somewhat forgettable movies and a series) should provide additional exposure.

Those who stumble onto the film unclear exactly what to expect (the promotion doesn’t tell you much) should be rewarded with a movie that provokes conversation about who benefits from a dysfunctional society. And if those conspiracy-laced thoughts aren’t entirely original, as woven into the DNA of “They Cloned Tyrone,” they don’t feel like just another copycat either.

“They Cloned Tyrone” premieres July 21 on Netflix.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Entertainment

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content