At the intersection of insanity and loyalty idles a blue caprice sedan in this real-life story of filial piety and calculated murder.
Based on true accounts of the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks in the Washington, D.C. area that resulted in 10 deaths over a three-week period, “Blue Caprice” depicts the events from the point of view of the killers, exploring the deadly relationship between a 16-year-old and his father figure.
Isaiah Washington plays John Allen Muhammad, a Gulf War veteran who adopts teenager Lee Malvo (Tequan Richmond) in Antigua, brings him to the U.S., and trains him as a sniper.
What makes the film gripping is that it is unveiled from the killers’ point of view, an unusual perspective that appealed to director Alexandre Moors.
“I’ve never considered that there was another way to tell the story, because the rest didn’t really interest me particularly,” Moors said. “We did a lot of research before we started writing anything—we wanted to know as much as we could. We had access to all the trial documents, and this is thousands and thousands of pages of testimony.”
The unusual father-son relationship particularly attracted Moors to the story, and he meticulously investigated the dynamic between John and Lee.
“We don’t really see John kill anyone,” Washington said. “We see this man tearing down this young man. It’s a film about fathers and sons. It’s a film about toxic leadership.”
While their crime spree begins with theft, the killings quickly escalate, as a desire for revenge feeds their power. John and Lee’s quest to kill becomes a motivation in itself, and they forget why they started killing in the first place.
“We’ll start a training camp,” John says to Lee at one point. “We’ll find other kids like you and teach them, send them to other cities to do what we did.”
Where the testimony ends, Moor’s imagination fills in the gaps of what could have happened between John and Lee.
“There were a lot of people who were giving their impression of them, but in the same time still nobody knew what happened with them,” Moors said. “I think that’s something that attracted us, that this film was going to be a little bit of a mystery, there will be like missing pieces in that puzzle.”
Despite the public knowledge of the real-life Beltway sniper events, Moors manages to keep the film surprising and suspenseful. It also defies genre classification.
“People have called it a horror film, a psychological thriller,” Washington said. “It’s not a hybrid, it’s ‘Blue Caprice.’”
“Blue Caprice” opens in theaters Friday.