A drug dealer, a pimp and a prostitute investigate a government plot to create clones of residents in their neighborhood.

There are influences from Quentin Tarantino and Stanley Kubrick in They Cloned Tyrone, but also from John Singleton and the Hughes brothers. That said, Creed II co-writer Juel Taylor’s feature debut is a most original proposition.

Without losing a moment, we are immersed in The Glen, an underprivileged neighborhood inhabited almost exclusively by African-Americans. The city is never specified. The time is also nebulous. Fashion and technology point to the turn of the 2000s, but the grain of the image as well as certain songs and cars are straight out of the 1970s. Later, a character talks about cryptocurrency and blockchain‚Ķ These anachronisms are one of the ways of confusing us. It feels good not knowing where you’re going!

The other main trick is the mixing of genres: blaxploitation, gangster movie, science fiction, satire, suspense…

Fontaine (John Boyega), Slick Charles (Jamie Foxx) and Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris) know each other well, but don’t particularly like each other. The first sells cocaine to the second, while the latter exploits the latter. The trio accidentally stumble upon a gigantic underground laboratory in which clones and mind-control products are made. Our plot description ends here, as Juel Taylor and Tony Rettenmaier (Space Jam: A New Legacy, Young. Wild. Free.) deserve to have their singular ideas gradually uncovered.

The performance of the three actors allows They Cloned Tyrone not to be a wacky film. John Boyega (the most recent Star Wars trilogy, The Woman King) plays Fontaine with a pent-up rage that he only briefly releases. This restraint is in total opposition to Jamie Foxx (Ray, Django Unchained) and Teyonah Parris (Chi-Raq, If Beale Street Could Talk) who form a pimp and hilarious pro duo. Their incessant insults, their countless references to popular culture, their Olympic repartee. They are merciless, but vulnerable. Very beautiful compositions.

Part of the genius of They Cloned Tyrone also lies in its few degrees of interpretation. The development in a secret laboratory of products to control the population of a predominantly black neighborhood could be compared to the “crack epidemic” in the United States in the 1980s. In this case, the protagonist is a drug dealer, but it is with food, cosmetics, music and advertising that the government secures its hold. There is food for thought.