Most people, by now, know about the Beltway Sniper Attacks. Outside the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, ten people were killed and three were injured in a series of random attacks. While at first it was believed that this was a one man job, it was later discovered that two men were behind the attacks. One man did the driving, while the other did the shooting out of a hole in the trunk of a blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice. The panic was monstrous and because the attacks were random, people feared that they could be killed at any moment. This story has been told many times, but none have provided a more interesting character study of the shooters as Blue Caprice has.
Lee Boyd Malvo (Tequan Richmond) grew up in Antigua with a mother who often left to America to find work. When is seems as if she will not return, Lee is sad and alone, as he is the only other member of his family. One day, he spots John Allen Muhammad (Isaiah Washington) out with his family and decides to follow them because of his lowliness. By a turn of events, Lee is taken into John’s family and is treated like a son. When John has to go back to Washington State, he brings Lee with him and his kids are left with their mother, whom has sole custody of them. Upon arriving in Washington, the two men stay at one of John’s friend’s house and around then is the first time that Lee uses a weapon.
When out hunting with John and his best friend Ray (Time Blake Nelson), Lee demonstrates a natural ability to shoot and kill. To Lee, John is his new father and everything that John says should be taken as the truth. When John spouts hate about a woman he knew who wrecked his life, Lee goes to kill her because John guilt’s him into doing evil for all that he has provided for Lee. When no one can identify the shooter in broad daylight, John has the idea to go across the country and kill multiple people every day for a month, so as to put fear in the heart of the country. Following his new fathers orders, Lee begins to kill civilians through a hole that was made in their Blue Caprice. After killing ten victims and injuring three others, the two men were arrested and jailed.
As soon as the film started, I likened it to Fruitvale Station. Both films open with actual footage from terrible incidents and you’re presented with the end of the story. You know what will happen, but it’s a matter of how you get there. Both films follow their protagonists through their lives, but Blue Caprice focuses on the story behind Lee and John and what lead them to kill all those people. In this case, we see the father-son relationship that grows between the two men and how Lee may or may not have been taken advantage of by John.
Isaiah Washington and Tequan Richmond both give wonderful performances in this film! While Richmond is more reserved and unaccustomed to the lifestyle in America, Washington plays the upset father figure who is haunted by demons and wants to rid the world of unnecessary evil. Washington’s unorthodox methods of punishment fuel Richmond’s desire to live and to please his new father, so he does the best he can to abide by Washington’s wishes. The result is a realistic depiction of how deceit can bud and how easy it is to take advantage of people. Whether or not the real Lee was taken advantage of, Washington does a superb job of emulating it on the screen.
Most of the other films that deal with the Beltway Sniper Attacks focus more on the attacks themselves and less on the shooters. I really applaud the choice to focus on the shooters this time, because it gives you a sense as to who they are and why they did what they did. Seeing the bond form between the two men is very intriguing and the script provides fantastic dialog that gives you an eerie feeling. What really stood out to me in this film was when John proclaimed that “We’re invisible”, after Lee had just killed a woman. If no one saw them kill, they could get away with. What’s stopping them? That thought is a very haunting one and it fuels the more tense moments of the film.
Due to the films slow pace and boiling tensions, this film does feel much longer than it actually is. Despite knowing what will inevitably happen, we try to stick around for the ride that gets us to the end. Unfortunately, this film never builds to a monumental moment that you believe it would. The tension is there, but the climax never comes. Mixed together with a gray aurora, we spend our time waiting and watching the dull colors go by as the films ultimately ends in an odd way.
Although this film has its issues, it’s still a fascinating look at the killers behind one of the most terrifying events of late. Washington and Richmond deliver fantastic performances that keep the film going and I’d love to see more of their work! The film does deal with some risqué subject matter, but it’s all handled very well and you rarely see the killings from the first-person prospective. The direction this film took is certainly an intriguing one and it’s a great opportunity for those less versed on this subject to learn about it in a new light!
Blue Caprice Trailer