Blue Caprice takes a chilling, straightforward and realistic look at 2002 Beltway Sniper killings. In this film, we’re led by though the strange, often frightening relationship between the two snipers involved, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo.
John Allen Muhammad is played by an absolute terrifying, ranting Isaiah Washington, who before this roll was famous as ‘that guy who got kicked off Grey’s Anatomy’ for making all those gay slurs’. Washington plays a controlling and fanatical Muhammad to a T and reminds us that before the Grey’s incident, this guy could actually act.
Of course, Tequan Richmond is no slouch either, in the roll of impressionable and sometimes even sympathetic Lee Boyd Malvo. His actual dialog is limited, but that makes his ability to clearly portray a needy boy, being manipulated into a cold blooded killer, even more impressive.
The film takes us through Muhammad and Malvo’s’ meeting. Malvo is just a boy who has been abandoned by his mother. Muhammad is the benevolent father figure that rescues Malvo from a life on the streets. He takes Malvo to Washington with him, and little by little Muhammad’s nefarious side starts to show.
One moment he’s teaching Malvo how to drive. Another he’s tying him to a tree and leaving him alone over night. The plot starts to culminate when Muhammad mater-of-factly tells Malvo of his master plan to create chaos, while shopping in the grocery store. [more…]
The actual attacks themselves are sensitively handled by the director, in a memorable but respectful way. The POV is through the eyes of the snipers themselves. The view is that of simple suburban simplicity, and the watcher cringes as the people being targeted clearly have no idea the horror that is about to unfold. These moments highlight the entire films ‘impending doom’ atmosphere.
The dialog and writing is done well. Much of the decisions are left up to the audience. Was Muhammad looking for a son, or was he a predator intent on using Malvo for his own means? The viewer never knows and Muhammad never says, but Washington’s excellent performance makes you think it could go either way. The characters never try to explain too much and the movie doesn’t focus on answers. This is appropriate, considering that real world situations like this never truly offer any answers.
Of course, there were some problems. The ending is more of a rushed montage of the results of the spree, followed by an abrupt ending. The blurred focus to regular focus seemed a bit on the nose, and the slow pans following the Blue Caprice were a bit overdone.
Overall though, this is a movie to set out what it intended to do. It clearly set out to show the disturbing relationship between the two perpetrators of this crime. At the same time, it managed to handle the deaths in a mature way. This is a psychological thriller that does exactly what a good psychological thriller is expected to do. It doesn’t tie the answers up for the viewers in a neat little bow. Instead, it makes the audience draw their own conclusion about the motivations behind the 2002 Beltway Sniper killings, while at the same time, making the watcher accept the fact that sometimes, there are no good answers.
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