Blue Caprice Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ February 13, 2014
An impressive debut feature from Alexandre Moors concerning the relationship of the 2002 D.C. Beltway shooters, and how a young, confused boy (Tequan Richmond) is brainwashed by a charismatic, self-righteous father figure (Isaiah Washington), who slowly but surely turns him into the monster he wants him to be. An atmospheric drama that is paced very slowly, but the amount of dread in the air is very present throughout the entire viewing. Washington is fantastically creepy, while Richmond absolutely nails his performance as well. Imagine a Terrance Malick film from hell, stripped completely of positivity. This is an eerie little movie that serves as a realistic portrayal of evil and how the slow burn that takes place eventually warps ones mindset and perspective on the world.
Super Reviewer
December 5, 2013
The DC Sniper case was one of the shocking crimes in first half of the 21 Century. A sniper in the DC region, started targeting random people, and had police baffled. The massacre continued for twenty-two days. Blue Caprice is a well crafted character study into the mind of two killers that terrorized a region of the States that is normally a safe place. With this film, we get a flair of sheer madness, but it's told in a subtle way, and the tone of the film is slow paced, but as it unravels we see how two killers terrorize a city. Brilliantly acted and directed, what I loved about the film is that it wasn't graphic or tried to exploit the tragedy in any way. Blue Caprice is an effective drama that boasts a very good cast of actors. Isaiah Washington delivers a blistering, intense performance as John Allen Mohammed, one of the perpetrators of the rampage. Blue Caprice is haunting in its images, performances, and it's quite a feat of storytelling. The subject that the film deals with is not for everyone, but to those who are interested, it's worth seeing. The film really surprised me, and lead actor Washington delivered the finest performance of his career, and I think he matured as an actor with this movie. Though not for everyone, Blue Caprice is a well executed drama based on a horrible massacre. Instead of focusing on the massacre, the filmmakers decided to focus on the events leading up to it, while not showing too much of the rampage, instead suggesting what is about to happen; that way it makes for a much more gripping and disturbing picture, one that will stay with you for a while.
Super Reviewer
September 11, 2013
"I've created a monster," John says to Lee,with a satisfied smile. John is proud of his protege,and proud of himself for being such an effective mentor. He is also speaking the literal truth. He and his young friend,the main characters in Alexandre Moors's psychological thriller "Blue Caprice" which is based on John A. Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo,who in 2002 terrorized the greater Washington and surrounding Maryland and Virginia areas with a series of murderous sniper attacks where innocent lives were brutally murdered. Under John's guidance,Lee,a lost and lonely teenager,has been transformed from an-All American kid to a steady-deadeye cold blooded killer. "Blue Caprice" sets the story at the year after September 11,at a time of raw nerves and war fever,the Beltway sniper shootings were front page news across the country and at a time when people in the D.C. and surroundings areas were living in constant fear of who was going to be next in a city on the brink of terror. This Alexandre Moors' feature film debut who was known for his music videos in a film that would have been better if it were directed by big name Hollywood talent....Jonathan Demme who directed the Oscar winning "Silence of the Lambs" was set to take over this project,but instead the producers wanted a fresh talent for this.
But most of "Blue Caprice" takes place before the shootings in Washington State,and its emphasis is the bond that formed between the killers. There are two ways to tell a story like this,but in aspects this is an exercise in psychological explaination(in the manner of numerous serial killer movies and TV shows)or as a study of the limits of interpretation.

The story sets off as a bonding between Lee(Tequan Richmond),and John(Isaiah Washington)where it starts from their first meeting with John's three younger kids on the Caribbean island of Antigua to the suburbs of Tacoma,Washington where Lee follows John there where they end up at the home of an Army buddy(Tim Blake Nelson),whose wife (Joey Lauren Adams) has mixed feelings about the houseguests. John refers to Lee as his son teaches him to drive and to shoot,and demands proofs of filial love in the form of acts of violence. His kindness is punctuated by strange and cruel disciplinary actions,as when he leaves Lee tied to a tree on a rainy night,trusting that the boy will escape and come home for breakfast. On the trip to the supermarket,John lays out a vision that will mutate into a plan. A series of random,bizarre murders,he says,will ultimately bring down the shadowy,oppressive system that he believes is at the roof of all his problems. His worldview is a stew of vague political and racial
resentments combined with specific grievances. "They" stole his children,his marriage,and messed up his life,and his adopted son will be the instrument of his revenge. John,unhinged though he maybe,is more readable than Lee,whose brooding,wounded silence is the film's center of gravity. You feel the vulnerability he is unable to express,and Mr. Richmond(who was known for his television work as the oldest son on the television series "Everybody Hates Chris",as well as his movie roles from "Ray" to "You've Got Served")care and restraint make this young man's fate all the more heartbreaking in the outbreak role of his young career with gives a solid performance all around. The same can be said by Isaiah Washington who gives the role of John Allen Muhammad a sinister more evil menace which is shocking in detail. But for the way the story ends,both John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were captured and were sentenced for their crimes. John Allen Muhammad was executed in 2009 while Lee Boyd Malvo is serving a life sentence without parole. To the relief of the public around the District of Columbia and surrounding areas of Maryland and Virginia,the Beltway sniper case was solved years ago. But Moors' film suggests it is still a mystery to this day.
Super Reviewer
September 22, 2013
'Blue Caprice'. Monsters aren't all that hard to create, given the right circumstances. Terrifying, and extremely difficult to watch. Isaiah Washington is scary as any character this year.
Super Reviewer
½ September 21, 2013
Blue Caprice is about Malvo an abandoned boy lured to America and drawn into the shadow by his dangerous father figure Muhammad. The film plot is inspired by the real life of 2002 Beltway sniper attacks. A major drawback in the story is the lack of dialogue. It's a film that goes more for showing than it does telling. Areas where characters remain silence would have benefited from a inner monologue exploring the tough father-son dynamic from each either perspective. Instead the silence is meant to create atmosphere, but because of a lack of dialogue it falters the intended mood. We're not given character enough development to invest in following any characters nor understand what would make an average person turn into a serial killer. Unable to sympathize for anyone and incapable of analyzing human behavior with poorly thought out cardboard characters. Without a substantial amount of material gather to work as a standalone film it becomes a flawed depiction of reality.

Character development is superficial and toss aside with nothing making up for it. Secondary characters suffer the same problem being introduced for no real purpose. It's intent on keeping the meaning ambiguous hurts it more than it does help. The scripts main focus is the buildup to the sniping terror, focusing on the bond established between Muhammad & Malvo. When it chooses to spend time in this area it glimpses something that resemble reality. A tragic story that's more complex than what we're given to work with. It curiously glosses over the terror they caused, disconnecting the shooters from the shot. Anyone unfamiliar with this story might think these two went crazy for a couple of days and then were caught. At the end you'll wonder what was the point that the film was meant to get across. Not enough development was given to explore the shooters departure from being citizens to becoming serial killers. Nothing from the main characters or secondary characters hinted at providing social commentary. There is a story worth telling in "Blue Caprice", but missing is any sort of meaning or goal it meant to be achieve.

Tequan Richmond who plays Malvo is a skilled young actor. Richmond conveys a lack of emotion in a character who rarely speaks of feelings. His exterior is difficult to read yet not too distant for an appropriate cold portrayal in a role that could have easily made any actor be wooden. Isaiah Washington is exteriorly more expressive. Portraying a man's inner rage who even under his calm exterior remains unsettling. Being both a charismatic person who's a joy to be around and a very disturbed man sanity you worry about. On a technical level Alexandre Moors is consistent. Restraint from showing any assassination scene and more focus on the actor expressions. It works showing his actors coldness, but as a storyteller decisions like this telegraphed distorts any significance that might be gain.

Blue Caprice is a caricature depiction of a tragedy without an exploration into anything meaningful. Nothing here provides much thoughts into the psyche of the sniper making whatever point it was aiming for easy to miss. If a single word was use to describe the film it would be nothing. The viewer is not given anything to analyze even in the simplest of ways nor it is a dreadful film in any way. A flawed film that showcases great talent, but provides little worth thinking about afterwards.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
January 30, 2014
Terrorism hits Washington, D.C., and it's scary that it was committed by a traitorous American, with the scariest part being that the terrorist... is black. Forget a blue caprice, they should have called this "Black Guy Problems, White Guy Crazy", because no how matter how much black people get used to shooting things, just how many sniper assassins have been something other than white? ...Man, that's messed up on so many levels, and I apologize, particularly to the victims of the Beltway sniper attacks. Well, they probably should have seen this coming, because it seems like Muhammad Ali is the only black person who didn't go crazy when he went so deep into Muslim that he took the name Muhammad, and even then, that might be because he was releasing stress as a boxer, so if it wasn't Parkinson's disease that got him into retirement and unable to hold a gun, we'd be done for. Wow, this opener is probably too offensive, but hey, it's not like you've heard about this film enough to be interested in reading an article that deals with someone's opinion on it. I'd say that in that case, I should watch my step, should Isaiah Washington see this and actually have his own crazy breakdown, what with all of the Spike Lee films' rubbing off on him, but they're saying so little about this film that I doubt even Washington knows about it, and he's in it. That's a shame, because, morbid jokes aside, this is a worthy story, but man, does its interpretation fall flat, in spite of certain genuinely commendable aspects.

Composed by Arcade Fire's Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld, this often dully quiet and dryly meditative film's score is underused, but when it is utilized, it's pretty effective, with a refreshing bite that is beautiful by its own musical right, as well as fitting as a compliment to this drama's tone. For this, credit is due to director Alexandre Moors, whose meditativeness is generally cold in its near-abstracts sparseness, yet it sometimes utilizes thoughtful style and scoring with a genuinely effective form of subtle intensity. Effective moments are there, helping in bringing the final product to the brink of decency, which, to be fair, was always to be within range, considering the value of this story which is done so much injustice by questionable storytelling. Well, even in concept, this narrative regarding the story behind the horrible Beltway sniper attacks is still too thin in scope to be all that meaty, and yet, this is nevertheless a conceptually intriguing study on men's gradual movement into dark depths that finds itself sometimes brought to life by highlights in storytelling, and frequently brought to life by worthy performances. Due to the thinness in the story concept and, of course, storytelling, acting material is limited, but what material there is goes delivered on pretty effectively by the leads, with Isaiah Washington capturing the bitterness of an angry man pushed to low-down deeds by his being wronged, while Tequan Richmond takes advantage of a more quiet intensity to capture the disturbed depths of a boy brought to a new life in America by a man who will mold him into a traitor of it. The disturbing story of John Muhammad and Lee Malvo has a lot of intrigue on paper that is not given as much justice as it should be given, but Washington and Richmond most reflect an ambition for effectiveness that is explored enough by genuine strengths in storytelling to at least come close to decency. Of course, the point is that decency is not achieved, because no matter how much this film bites in certain places, it falls flat on the whole, not even being able to come up with all that much freshness to what material there is to a do-little narrative.

May be only so much plot, but when it kicks in, it's often too familiar for its own good, as storytelling is bland enough when it's not treading a formula that distances you about as much as, of all things, a lack of familiarity with the story and characters. Immediate development is lacking, the eventual explanation of certain background information feels rather forced, and even gradual characters pays only so much attention to fleshing out character layers which are ultimately very important in this conceptually layered character study. The performers capture the decline in decency within the leads, sure, but writer R.F.I. Porto provides only so much depth on paper, while still finding time to drag things along. Porto plagues storytelling with long meditations upon, not material, or even filler, but just nothing, and such overtly artistic meanderings get to be monotonous and aimless, ironically making it easier to feel out the natural shortcomings of this narrative which is handled with so little focus. Again, this story is worthy, but it's also minimalist, having only so much potential, due to its having only so much dynamicity to its plot to explore, which is hard to deny when the film meanders along what material is offers, and mighty coldly I might add. Porto's script, alone, is rich with questionable artistic over-meditativeness that borders on abstract, and certain stiffens pacing, yet momentum and, for that matter, resonance are truly deadened by the exhaustingly overblown directorial thoughtfulness by Alexandre Moors, who hits upon finding material, but generally plagues the final product with a distancing dullness that makes it even harder to get invested in an undercooked and meandering story, and frustrates with a certain sense of artistic pretense. The film wants so hard to be artistically slick, as well as intense, and by that, I don't so much mean that Moors' direction has a sense of ambition behind it, as much as I mean there's a certain arrogance to Moors' direction, which has its effective moments, and is ultimately not so abrasive that it aggravates to a contemptible degree, but makes it hard to get invested, as well as near-impossible to disregard the other storytelling shortcomings that leave the final product to sputter out as mediocre.

When the rounds are emptied, an excellent score by Sarah Neufeld and Colin Stetson, highlights in directorial storytelling by Alexandre Moors behind a conceptually intriguing story, and strong performances by Isaiah Washington and Tequan Richmond provide glimpses of a decent dramatic thriller, but natural narrative thinness, some plotting conventions, distancing underdevelopment, monotonously unfocused dragging and a generally dull, atmospherically cold and arrogant directorial performance cut "Blue Caprice" into mediocrity as a both overblown and flat artistic meditation upon the ostensibly disturbing tale behind the certainly disturbing Beltway sniper attacks.

2.25/5 - Mediocre
Super Reviewer
½ January 22, 2014
Last year Blue Caprice made a statement at some festivals for its cerebral look at evil based off a horrible true-life story about the Washington D.C. sniper. The eerie atmosphere and suspenseful music that underlines many of the events which take place more in Tacoma, Washington than D.C. gives you a good sense of dread as you watch Isaiah Washington's character morph Tequan Richmond's boy into a killing machine. Without much background for Washington, it was a bit difficult to understand his plight against America until stones start becoming unturned at uneven points throughout the film. The way he handled his adopted son makes more sense when you understand Washington's history as a violent man rather than being left a little clueless for the first 30 or 45 minutes. As far as the performances go from Washington and Richmond, they were excellent. Richmond really goes through a transformation from beginning to end.
The blue Caprice doesn't actually make an appearance in the film till late, but then again this movie wasn't ever about glorifying the actual killings. There isn't much of the actual act of killing shown on camera...more after effects and visualizations of their damaged war path.
Weirdly enough, I actually expected a little more doom and gloom with a darker story on the relationship between the two leads. In his first directing appearance, Moors might have been better served devoting more time to his two leads relationship than turning the environment into what shaped and molded the two.
Francisco G.
Super Reviewer
½ October 3, 2013
Halfway through the movie the younger killer asks to another character what is he supposed to feel after having killed someone. This speaks volumes on the psycho relation that develops between these two killers and the atocities they commited a decade ago. There are no easy answers, no moral and a feeble atempt of humanizing these monsters. What seems to be the underlying theme here (without giving concrete answers) is the opressive atmosphere the so called war on terror caused on the lower class american family, with many fingers being pointed but with no clear solution and that's where the success of Blue Caprice resides. The banalization of evil has never been so banal.
½ September 13, 2013
Ominous and tense throughout, "Blue Caprice" is a slow burn that builds to an unsettling boil, leaving you with a known outcome that's hard to digest.
January 18, 2014
I did not see the appeal of this film. I was very interested in learning more of the story behind the Beltway Snipers, but it seems like Alexandre Moors was more interested in trying to make a moody and atmospheric thriller. Unfortunately, Moors doesn't succeed here either. The film moves at a snail's pace, and not in a way that feels deliberate, rather it feels completely unfocused.

Washington gives a solid performance as a man struggling with strange delusions, anger issues, and resentment towards his ex-wife. However, his "son" played by Tequan Richmond was completely uninteresting. I couldn't have cared less about his character, and, on a side note, why didn't he have a Jamaican accent? Luckily, Tim Blake Nelson was in this film to give the most interesting performance in the movie. I loved what he was doing as this aggressively machismo guy, who is not a bad guy, but contributes to the formation of the snipers.

I did appreciate how Moors chose to delve into the psyche of these two men. Unfortunately, he didn't do it in a way that was as effective as I think he wanted to. But I do think the film feels contradictory in its message. The first half of the film seems to be suggesting that John's divorce and loss of custody is contributing to his downfall, and then the end of the film is heavyhanded in showing that the killings were random and meaningless. So, which is it: a result of John's life situation or random and meaningless?

I didn't hate the film, but I couldn't get on board with what Moors was trying to do. I've seen plenty of good reviews praising the film's camerawork, atmosphere, and performances, but this film just wasn't for me.
½ October 9, 2013
Timely indeed. This speculative film about what may have been going on in the heads of the two men responsible for the 2002 sniper attacks that terrified D.C., Maryland and Virginia residents pulses with scary, potent relevance given the raging debate about guns. But Blue Caprice is a film that cuts deeper than headlines. Directed by New York-based French filmmaker Alexandre Moors, from a terrific script by R.F.I. Porto, Blue Caprice is a cinematic triumph, a gut punch, mind-bending meditation on how killers are made. Moors, in a triumphant debut, is not trying to revel in the ten deaths that resulted from the rampage by John Allen Muhammed (Isaiah Washington) and his 17-year-old accomplice Lee Malvo (Tequan Richmond) during their three-week killing spree. Moor instead is looking to put a human face on evil without condoning their actions. The film starts on the island of Antigua, where young Malvo is living on his own since his mother abandoned him. Muhammed takes the boy in to live with his own children, but what seems ideal soon becomes dark and menacing when its revealed Muhammed kidnapped his own children. After they're sent back to his ex-wife, the father becomes vengeful and takes off to the United States with Malvo. This is where the film portrays, in heartbreaking, scary detail the process of how Muhammed turns his surrogate son into a remorseless killer. It all starts when Muhammed orders Malvo to kill a woman who testified against him in his child custody case as a test of loyalty. Malvo, who hardly says a word, proves a willing pupil. By the time the two are cavorting around in a blue Chevy Caprice, its trunk outfitted with a puncture for easy sniping, compassion is dead and they're rage now encompasses the whole world. Blue Caprice, anchored by the riveting, taut performances of Washington and Richmond, is a film that hits you hard. You can't shake it.
½ November 2, 2013
For twenty-three days in late 2002, our nation's capital was besieged with fear as ten individuals were gunned down and killed while three others were critically-injured over this period of time through fifteen coordinated sniper attacks that many believed were the actions of one unidentified man. The Beltway sniper attacks nearly paralyzed the entire metropolitan area as the victims were widely spread about reaching from the northern DC suburbs of Maryland to parts of central Virginia along Interstate 95. Blue Caprice is the highly riveting debut feature from director Alexandre Moors that tells the unconventional story of the two men arrested for these attacks while sleeping in their car (a blue Caprice) at a rest area on October 22, 2002. The two men -- John Allen Muhammad (Isaiah Washington - True Crime) and Lee Boyd Malvo (Tequan Richmond - Ray) -- had a distorted father-son relationship that began several years earlier when John met Lee on the Caribbean island of Antigua well before the younger man found himself alone in the states abandoned by his mother and before being taken in by John when he lived in Tacoma, Washington. John's divorce and loss of his children before the arrival of Lee had created a bitter, angry man who in turn planted seeds of anger and discontent in his new ward whose own want to be accepted by others made him highly impressionable. Together they formed a dangerous bond that even worried some of John's last remaining friends (Tim Blake Nelson [Lincoln] and Joey Lauren Adams [Chasing Amy]). Most of the film is a build-up of the psychological bond these men have formed as Blue Caprice is more about the men than it is their ultimate, defining criminal acts. The film simmers as the viewer watches every move these men make that leads them to DC in that deadly Blue Caprice. The audience knows what is coming and there is no way for it to be avoided ... their victims all had a date with fate.
October 24, 2013
Blue Caprice is not your typical "inspired by real events" thriller. It is a slow dance to the soundtrack of nightmares. A simmering tonal poem that proves uninterested in the beltway murders themselves or the procedural chase that ensued. Instead, it is a character study that invests its time in exploring the psychology of a sociopath and the young man he has managed to brainwash. .
September 30, 2013
A terrifying psychological portrait of genuine evil. Blue Caprice tells the story of the DC Snipers and their disturbing path that led to their reign of terror in the Washington area.
April 13, 2015
Chilling portrait of the two insane sniper murderers, and how their mnds break with reality occurred.
½ February 17, 2015
The craftsmanship behind this is outstanding. It doesn't glorify or dehumanize these men, but rather shows their situation and builds up to the event. The story achieves everything is wants to, I just don't think the particular vision they had in creating this was exactly good movie material. Still though, interesting subject matter and a polished film.
January 18, 2015
Slow burning and understated story of a boy adopted by a man who slowly trains him to be a killer, a random killer. Based on the Beltway Sniper killings, this extraordinary film has a worrying parallel today in how the most extreme of behaviours can be completely normalised.
Definitely worth seeing.
October 2, 2014
A bleak and realistic drama played as a bleak documentary of the two people behind of the 2002 Beltway sniper shootings mystery that terrorized the United States so soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks a few months before.

The film charts the course of the man and the teenager responsible for the terrible random killings, giving us detailed historical and psychological insight into the anger in their lives that pushed them over the edge to start a senseless murder spree for ultimately nonsensical reasons.

Loneliness, boredom, abandonment, and anger created a volatile mix in the film's languid atmosphere which is all conveyed in a very palpable way by the excellent cast.

This is a hard drama to watch and it's certainly not a "crowd pleaser", but it certainly should be seen by anyone interested in the facts behind the event, and for the portrayal of the paranoia that ran through the nation at that time which was exploited by these two evil men.
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