Isaiah Washington plays John Muhammad, a disgruntled divorced father who “adopts” Lee Malvo (Tequan Richmond,) a teen boy who was abandoned by his mom, while vacationing in Antigua. Back in America John trains Lee in his way of thinking and how to properly kill people. This all leads up to those horrific shootings in DC, Virginia and Maryland.
This is one of those films that need to thread on with some care and Moors does that just fine. Instead of making into a murderer’s check list, Moors instead opts to make it into a father/son bonding/training movie. Here we get to see how and why Muhammad wanted to go out and shoot all these innocents and train Malvo on how to help him. It’s tasteful and quite interesting to watch even though we know what that’ll lead to.
There’s also this whole father/son bonding motif going on and the film does it just fine. We see that Muhammad treats Malvo as if he’s his real son and, despite some harsh abuse (tying him to a tree and leaving him there in one scene) he really cares for him. Of course, this is all dramatized for a movie but it does make for some excellent story telling.
Both Isaiah Washington and Tequan Richmond are excellent in their roles. Washington playing an angry man out to kill people because he feels the world deserves it and Richmond playing the son that looks up to him and is going along with his plan. The chemistry between the two is virtually perfect. They both play off each other in a way that the audience thinks they really are related and work on the same brain wave. Washington playing the father who is telling his son the master plan in a “we’re really going to get them good” tone while Richmond is taking it all in looks very natural.
Tim Blake Nelson, plays the role of Muhammad’s friend Ray, puts on a great performance. The only problem is that he’s a bit underutilized and just feels more like a background character than an important character that puts the plot all together. He also seems to only exist so the mains can have a place to stay and somewhere to get their guns. The there’s Joey Lauren Adams playing Ray’s wife Jamie. She’s even more invisible and useless despite a decent performance.
Of course, there’s plenty of symbolism in this film that the director just shoves in your face. First, the movie’s title came from the fact that the killers drove a blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice. Second, guns and more guns. Guns from a violent video game that looks like a “Doom” knockoff and Muhammad’s friend’s guns that they both shot and “borrowed” to do the killings. Weather the director intentionally put these to portray a message is unclear. The video game scene is a little distracting but it thankfully doesn’t get in the way of the film’s enjoyment.
There’s also the problem with how to pace a movie like this. Moors decided to make this movie a slow paced film in favor of a more traditional fast-paced thriller pace. This works in that it allows the audience to fully see the world these two lived in and to absorb the atmosphere. The pace also helps to put tension on the audience for what is going to happen at the end.
“Blue Caprice” is a solid and tastefully done effort by Moors featuring top name actors pulling off solid performances despite it being about two mass murderers. Despite some obvious dramatizing events it’s still worth watching.