“They Cloned Tyrone”


Rotten Tomatoes (2.5/5), Metacritic (5/10), Letterboxd (2.5), Imdb.com (5/10). TMDB.com (2.5/5)

When a drug dealer (John Boyega) in a predominantly African-American inner city neighborhood dies in a revenge killing, his friends and colleagues are stunned to find him alive and healthy the following day. That’s particularly true for two of his regular associates, a pimp (Jamie Foxx) and one of his ladies of the evening (Teyonah Parris). Together, the unlikely trio proceeds to investigate what’s going on, only to soon find themselves in the midst of a fiendish social experiment involving cloning, mind control and behavior modification targeting their entire neighborhood, a clandestine initiative operated by an evil organization headed by a bigoted mastermind (Kiefer Sutherland). As intriguing as that narrative may sound, however, the picture’s execution leaves much to be desired. For starters, the film is trying way too hard to imitate the works of writer-director Jordan Peele, with more than a few thinly veiled elements that echo “Get Out” (2017) and “Us” (2019). Then there are a number of serious technical issues, most notably the picture’s truly horrendous sound quality (generally throughout, but especially in the first 30 often-undecipherable minutes) and its needlessly dark cinematography (there’s a big difference between atmospheric and incomprehensible). To top that off, many of this release’s attempts at humor fall flat and/or lazily rely on shamelessly milking well-worn stereotypes, often verging on insulting. To its credit, “They Cloned Tyrone” does offer some valuable (if a bit overly obvious) pieces of social commentary, making the second half more watchable than the first. It also features a fine performance by Parris, who often steals scenes and leaves her co-stars in the dust. Nevertheless, writer-director Juel Taylor’s second big screen feature fails on so many fronts that the shortcomings undermine what could have been a hilarious sci-fi thriller if left in more skilled hands (like Jordan Peele, perhaps?). Take a pass on this one.