2013, R, 93 min. Directed by Alexandre Moors. Starring Isaiah Washington, Tequan Richmond, Tim Blake Nelson, Joey Lauren Adams, Cassandra Freeman, Leo Fitzpatrick.
REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., Oct. 4, 2013
The acts of random violence in Blue Caprice tap into a collective fear of the unfathomable. Over a three-week period in October 2002, 10 people in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area died by sniper fire for no apparent reason, while engaged in the most mundane tasks of daily life: pumping gas at a service station, unloading purchases in a parking lot, vacuuming the floor of a car. The Caprice in these senseless murders was more than just an inconspicuous sedan gliding through the Beltway in search of human target practice.
Rather than approach this chilling story as a crime drama, Blue Caprice is a psychological study of banal evil, here in the guise of John Allan Muhammad, an embittered older man angry with the world (Washington, in a right-on performance) and Lee Boyd Malvo, a directionless younger man desperate for a father figure (Richmond). Initially, John directs his rage toward the ex-wife who refuses access to his beloved children and her collaborators in this painful perception of injustice. But vengeful thoughts mutate into a deadly misanthropy, one empowered by a Bushmaster XM-15 rifle rigged in the trunk of a car. The appointed marksman is Lee, a teenage boy from Antigua who John emotionally brainwashes to dispassionately pull the trigger in fulfillment of his personal jihad. Not since Leopold and Loeb (or Dick and Perry, perhaps) has the symbiosis between two male killers come across so darkly.
Blue Caprice slowly builds toward the awful events that transpired 11 years ago; its focus is less on what happened than why (assuming an explanation for the heinous is possible). Indeed, the killing spree doesn’t occur until two-thirds way through the film. Moors’ cool-headed direction drives you there with the assured skill of a man who knows where he’s going. While the film re-enacts a single killing to demonstrate the murderous modus operandi, it communicates almost all of the other deaths through a static shot of a lifeless body, one facedown on the asphalt next to an automobile or crumpled in the grass beside a leaf-blower. The fallen look like dolls abandoned by God. These images may last only a few seconds, but no doubt they will forever be burned into your mind.