The shootings were so random — in a parking lot, at a gas station, a guy mowing grass, a baby sitter reading a book on a bus stop bench.
They happened in a spree — in Maryland, Virginia, greater Washington, D.C. — and set off a frantic manhunt and car hunt. He had to be a “disaffected white male.” He called in threats and warnings: “Your children are not safe, anywhere, at any time.”
Was the shooter driving a van? Or white truck?
No, it was a “Blue Caprice.” And the “shooter” was two black men, John Allen Muhammad and a teen he treated as his “son,” Lee Boyd Malvo.
“Blue Caprice” is a chilling portrait of motive, manipulation and mass murder. As Muhammad — never called by that name in Alexandre Moors’ film — Isaiah Washington paints a portrait of brittle charm and embittered, bloody-minded grudges. We meet a doting father, see him take in a teen who has been abandoned by his mother, and then watch him use people, claim victimhood and eventually create a monster as his tool for revenge on a country this military vet felt had done him wrong. Washington is brilliant in the part — scary, mysterious, but not the least bit unfathomable.
The grown man meets the boy Lee (an intense yet vulnerable Tequan Richmond) in Antigua, and eventually brings him to Tacoma, where the ex-Army mechanic renews his friendship with an old service buddy. (More than half of the film is set in Tacoma, but the “Tacoma” scenes were shot in Staten Island, N.Y.)
Tim Blake Nelson is a rough, working-class gun aficionado — heading off into the woods to “let off some steam” by shooting any one of his large, unsecured collection of guns. Pistols are fine and hunting rifles have their place. But “if you really want to make a difference in the world,” there’s nothing like an assault rifle, he glibly tells the boy. And the kid, taking his first shots, is “a natural.”
Washington, Moors and screenwriter R.F.I. Porto let us see the wheels begin to turn in Muhammad’s head.
H H H 1/2 I
Cast: Isaiah Washington, Tequan Richmond, Joey Lauren Adams, Tim Blake Nelson
Director: Alexandre Moors
Running time: 1:27
Rated: R; disturbing violent content, language and brief drug use
To read a transcript of a discussion between “Blue Caprice” film maker Alexandre Moors and this newspaper, go to: tinyurl.com/BlueCaprice.