It’s hard to like a film about a serial killer as ‘like’ might just be too inappropriate a word to use. With that being said, “NO MAN OF GOD” is a familiar, yet still an intriguing look at the psychological tug-of-war so to speak, that went on between Ted Bundy (Luke Kirby) and FBI Agent Bill Hagmaier (Elijah Wood).
The film starts us in 1985, shortly after Bundy’s capture and conviction. The story told here is from a bit of a different perspective as the numerous others we have seen in the past, this one being from the view of analyst Agent Hagmaier, who is in the early days of what is now known as being a criminal profiler. Being an analyst in the early days meant going in and listening to hours upon hours of what Bundy did and how, in an attempt to learn more about the psyche of those who commit these heinous crimes. Most of what takes place is one on one, in an interrogation room with the religious Hagmaier being one of the few the Bundy will speak to.
This is essentially a movie about two people, and each gets almost equal focus. Wood plays Bill as the newbie who doesn’t really want to be there, but feels duty prone. Bundy, who was known for intensely disliking anyone in law enforcement or government, has turned down a TV special for $50,000, but Bill is convinced that he can be the one to get Bundy to open up. Bundy thinks the cops are all “liars in cheap suits.” and is playing them all hard at the end saying he has tantalizing tidbits to reveal about some unknown victims to avoid the death penalty. Despite numerous warnings like “when you get too close to a guy like this, you could lose your way,” Bill talks with Bundy year after year as his revolting in-detail, tales begin to overshadow into Bill’s home life. On the other hand, Kirby portrays Ted with a cool calculated indifference, an almost unnerving calm, that feels as though it reaches through the screen at you and carries a whole lot of intimidation along with it. As Bundy’s ‘friendship’ with Bill morphs into more, you begin to feel a layer of the almost filmy slime forming on your skin, the kind that makes you feel you need a shower. While I might be baffled a bit by the casting of Kirby though, as the impression was that Bundy had these beautiful blue eyes that made him so irresistible and helped lure in the women to him, it’s fair to also point out he could make his eyes almost black because yes, he was a very dark human being. Whichever it is, both acting portrayals here are top of the line, including the small supporting cast of Robert Patrick as Roger Depue, Bill’s boss, and Aleska Palladino as Carolyn Lieberman, Bundy’s death penalty lawyer who was rumoured to have been having a prison affair with him, though the film does clear this up once and for all.
Director Amber Sealy doesn’t take us into any new or unknown territory in ‘No Man of God’, it does give us probably the best acted and darkest Bundy to date. Oddly, I hope this is the last one as the obsession of serial killers being ‘all the rage’ of our society and the fame they achieve doing it, is not really something to be celebrated.
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Tribeca Virtual screening ~ courtesy of KWPR
“NO MAN OF GOD” OPENS IN THEATERS AUGUST 27,2021