I have called DC home for many years, so I was somewhat curious about the film, “Blue Caprice,” which is about the time leading up to, during and after one of the most frightening periods in the city’s history—the period of the DC Sniper.
By way of background, for a few months following September 11, 2001, anthrax was the talk of the town. Postal workers were handling and delivering the mail with gloves; people were buying plastic sheeting in bulk to paste to their windows in case of attack…it was intense. Spring and summer came and finally life was getting back to normal. Then, in October, random, deadly shootings started to occur. Shootings are nothing new to the District or surrounding suburbs, but these shootings seem to come out of nowhere and from the same gun. A shooting at a gas station, a school, a parking lot, a bus stop—young, old, any and every race—there was no rhyme or reason to any of it. We were told to be on the lookout for a white van which might have some relation to the shootings. I remember waiting for my bus in the morning when a white van went down the street. I immediately called 9-1-1. When the shooters were finally apprehended in a blue Caprice at a Maryland highway rest stop, I happened to be on a chartered bus the next day for a work event, on the same highway, and remember the bus driver pointing out the infamous stop.
So, against that backdrop, I decided to take in “Blue Caprice.” I went looking for answers. Was there a rationale, delusional as it might be, for these killings? As directed by Alexandre Moors and written by R.F.I. Porto, “Blue Caprice” doesn’t provide answers and perhaps there are none to be had. What we get is some background on the two men and learn why, perhaps, the two were drawn to one another. The film opens with real footage from the shootings. We then go back in time where we first meet John Allen Muhammad (Isaiah Washington) and Lee Boyd Malvo (Tequan Richmond) in Antigua. Muhammad is happily playing on the beach with his children as Malvo watches from his house. Soon, thereafter, Malvo’s mother tells her son that she’s departing their home in search of better employment, leaving Malvo to fend for himself. While she’s gone, it appears that Malvo nearly drowns and is rescued by Muhammad. From that point on the two are inseparable. Muhammad takes Malvo under his wing and we see a father/son bond develop. About five months later, Muhammad’s children are gone and he decides to go to Tacoma, Washington, taking Malvo with him. In Tacoma, he and Malvo settle in with a friend and his wife. Muhammad’s personality has changed for the worse. He has formed a real hatred for his ex-wife whom he believes has stolen his children. He teaches Malvo to shoot and Malvo is a natural. At one point Muhammad proudly says, “I have created a monster.” When the two go shopping in a grocery store, we see Muhammad put forth some kind of plan…but why and to what end? Eventually Muhammad and Malvo make their way to the DC area and the horrible killings begin.
Isaiah Washington gives a very good, precise performance as Muhammad. Except for the anger towards his ex, precision/discipline seem to be much in keeping with the character. Tequan Richmond’s Malvo is much more subdued, but it works. In Malvo, Muhammad found a very malleable soul, and Richmond portrays that perfectly. While the acting is good, there really isn’t enough story behind the performances and that is “Blue Caprice’s” ultimate downfall.
Unfortunately, for me, the most fascinating part of the movie had nothing to do with the acting. It was learning how Malvo was able to shoot without being seen. And I thought sadly, how “lucky” we were that he was only able to shoot one person at a time, unlike the killings we’ve seen in recent years.