Blue Caprice is a quiet, moody, and unsettling look into the relationship between the two beltway snipers before their 2002 killing spree. First time director Alexandre Moors films the movie with a very documentarian style, like the camera is just another character along for their violent ride. It’s an interesting look into the lives of two men who you could probably unanimously describe as pure evil. While the movie doesn’t follow much of their crime spree, it opts instead to examine how they met, and how John Muhammad molded 16 year old Lee Boyd Malvo into his twisted apprentice of sorts. It makes for an interesting, if a little bit slow in the beginning, viewing experience, especially having seen the whole thing unfold every night on the news when I was a kid.
The movie starts in the Caribbean, where young Lee Malvo is left at home by his mother; except this time, she doesn’t come back. He wanders aimlessly until he meets John Muhammad, who becomes like a father to him, and they move back to the U.S., where John is from. There, the two stay with Johns friend Ray. This is when the manipulation of Lee really begins, as John explains to Lee that they need to essentially terrorize the nation. John recently lost his children to his wife as well as a divorce, and his mounting frustration and anger bleeds over into his new ‘son’. The two head east in the third act, as it shows how they intended to carry out their plan of killing six people a day, for thirty days. However, the two are cut short, although they still managed to kill sixteen people in the process.
It was really interesting watching Blue Caprice, because it seems like not that long ago that it was all over the news. I remember coming home from school and turning on the TV to see that more people had been shot in D.C. Even in California, far from where the shootings were happening, people were rattled and afraid. All of this was happening barely a year after 9/11 as well, and I feel like I remember talk of homeland terrorism being a huge part of the conversation. The country was in a very fragile and paranoid state, and the beltway attacks were the equivalent of kicking somebody when they’re down.
The two leads really carry the whole film, especially Isaiah Washington. He plays Muhammad with a quiet, scary confidence that really sells how psychotic this guy really was deep down (He was executed back in 2009). If I were to see this movie without any knowledge of the real life events, I just wouldn’t think it was possible. For just one person to have a belief system that far off the reservation is a scary realization, but when you know he coaxed a sixteen year old ‘kid’ to join the cause as well? It’s a terrifying thought, and ‘Blue Caprice’ presents it to gut-wrenching effect.