|Image courtesy of Sundance Selects|
That event is, of course, the Beltway sniper murders that took the lives of 10 people and injured three others outside of Washington D.C. as well as in Maryland and Virginia in 2002.
This new film is not a moment-by-moment reenactment of the incidents in the vein of "United 93," but more similar to Gus Van Sant's terrific Columbine-inspired "Elephant" in that it sets the scene for the known incident, but comes to the conclusion that there is no logical explanation for it.
"Blue Caprice" is pretty effective and features some solid performances, including Isaiah Washington, who portrays John Allen Muhammad, and Tequan Richmond as Lee Boyd Malvo. Tim Blake Nelson and Joey Lauren Adams provide some solid supporting work as a couple that provides a place to crash for the duo, who, in the film, play out a twisted version of a father-son relationship.
At the film's beginning, Malvo is living in Antigua with his rarely present mother when he meets the alluring Muhammad, who is on a vacation with his children, whom he has managed to smuggle away from their mother, from whom he is divorced. It's easy to see why Malvo is taken in. Muhammad is - at least, at first - a pretty convincingly loving father figure.
It's not until Muhammad has sort of adopted Malvo, brought him back to the United States and begun engaging in all manner of paranoia that we get a closer glimpse of who the man truly is. The film is a chilling portrayal of a dominating personality and the apostle willing to go as far as it takes to please him.
The film is set in post-9/11 America, but Muhammad's mission is not politically motivated. Rather, he is out for revenge, but it is unclear against whom he is seeking it. He is angry that his wife has kept his children from him, but the plot to randomly murder people at gas stations along the Beltway appears to be an effort on the killers' parts to bring about chaos, rather than make a statement or achieve a means to an end. In other words, you won't find any easy answers here.
"Blue Caprice" is muted - at times, perhaps, a little too much so. But the film is an effective piece of true crime filmmaking that views its subjective with an investigative eye, rather than a critical one, and is all the better for it.