“Blue Caprice”
“Blue Caprice” is a chilling film. It’s a low-budget, under-hyped, starkly real story of the two still-anonymous men who became the 2002 Beltway snipers.
Lee (Tequan Richmond) was actually still 16, living with his mother in his native island of Antigua , when one day his mother left, saying she had to go work. And then suddenly she was gone, and Lee never sees her again.
For a while, he just wanders around aimlessly near his home, but one day he sees a man playing outdoors with his two young children, and something about their happiness together just attracts the lonely, isolated Lee, and literally having nothing else to do, he simply follows them.
John (Isaiah Washington ) seems like the ideal father----attentive, fun-loving, gentle, and affectionate. A faint alarm bell starts to ring when his kids ask where Mommy is, and Dad explains that they can’t be together at the same time any more. That sounds like a typical divorce situation, until we later learn that John has a restraining order out on him, because he’s “kidnapped” the kids and taken them out of the country. He later says that he doesn’t believe there’s any such thing as a Dad “kidnapping” his own children, but then, the number of non-custodial, divorced Dads who believe that is legion. It’s just that the Law doesn’t, and won’t ever, agree. And the Law always wins.
So John, like any number of other non-custodial divorced Dads, carries with him an anger that just won’t be assuaged. He feels that his life hasn’t gone as planned, and he’s gotten a raw deal. He finds it compelling that this teenager without a home----Lee----seems to need a parent figure. John feels perfectly comfortable “parenting” someone who is available, since he can’t seem to see his own kids any more (yes, she’s moved, and because of the restraining order, doesn’t have to tell him where she went with them). But John’s residual anger and Lee’s apparent lack of moral compass make for a dangerous combination. When Lee is caught shoplifting from a grocery store, John punishes him by tying him to a tree out in the woods and forcing him to free himself and find his own way home. Somehow John finds a way to bring Lee to the United States , but jobs for either one of them are difficult to find. John looks up a former co-worker, Ray (Tim Blake Nelson), who takes them in for a while (though his wife’s not too happy about it), and, worse, Ray, a former Army buddy, is happy to show off his firearms collection. Ray and John happily go out in the woods and teach Lee to shoot, claiming he is a “natural” shot.
Something sinister happens within Lee----he loves the power and feel of guns.
Well, you can tell that this volatile set of circumstances is a combustible mix. John has no trouble getting Lee to go shoot a shopkeeper closing up, and then take the money from the cash register. And that was so easy that they decide, when the money runs out, to do it again. John starts spouting off some weird chaos-theory stuff about letting everybody know that the hard times are coming. Lee enjoys being the trigger guy way too much, and with some of their ill-gotten gains they purchase a Blue Chevrolet Caprice, removing the back seat and outfitting the trunk with a removable porthole, yes, for the rifle barrel. Lee is shooting the victims from inside the trunk, and they literally never see what hit them.
Soon they are both deranged enough to just kill random people for the thrill of it, and by the time they are eventually caught, they’ve left a trail of chaos, all right: the senseless kind of horror that makes you wonder if John Calvin wasn’t right about utter depravity, after all.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas