Tribeca Film Festival 2021 Review: No Man of God

Year: 2021
Runtime: 100 minutes
Director: Amber Sealy
Writer: C. Robert Cargill
Actors: Luke Kirby, Elijah Wood, Aleksa Palladino, Robert Patrick

By Tom Moore

Director Amber Sealy’s newest film, “No Man of God”(2021), offers another glimpse into Ted Bundy’s horrific mentality through a bit of a different lens.

Personally, I’m getting tapped out on Ted Bundy stories. At this point, there have been so many movies, documentaries, and tv series on the prolific serial killer that there really aren’t many unique angles left to cover. However, Sealy ends up slightly finding one in touching on the last days of Bundy (Luke Kirby) on Death Row as he gets interviewed by FBI analyst Bill Hagmaier (Elijah Wood) in order help build a profile on serial killers. As the two begin to talk more and more Bill finds himself going deeper down the rabbit hole and having philosophical and psychological boundaries be crossed.

Rather than focus on the horrific murders committed by Bundy, “No Man of God” focuses more on dissecting his mentality through his discussions with Bill and showcasing a pivotal interview series that helped build criminal profiling. For anyone missing out on “Mindhunter”, this film definitely checks some boxes for the type of slow-burning, conversational thrills it delivers. From start to finish, it keeps you locked in a room with these two as it delves deeper into Bundy’s psychosis. Admittedly though, this execution of these interviews can be this film’s downfall since it just feels like the same things over and over again.

Look, I’m not going to say that watching two people sit and have a conversation is the most riveting thing to watch – especially when it’s in the same room and there really isn’t much else going on. There are no other characters that really stand out or given the time to be as fleshed out as Bundy and Bill aside from Bundy’s lawyer Carolyn (Aleksa Palladino) towards the end of the film. Even the conversations they have just don’t come off all that impactful or special given what we already know about Bundy. There’s definitely a sort of cat and mouse game that can be felt between Bundy and Bill as Bill tries to gain a better understanding of him, but it just doesn’t go anywhere all that remarkable. Most of the time, it just feels like the usual antics of Bundy either gloating about his intelligence and power or utilizing his charm to point the finger in directions that aren’t towards him.

 “It’s easily one of Kirby’s most memorable performances and he brings some darker shades to Bundy that’s fitting for the craziness of his final days and the enigma of his mind that Bill is desperately trying to solve.”

The only things that really keep these interactions from being completely dull is the strong performances from the leading duo and the interesting depiction of Bundy and his last days. Kirby’s performance feels like a total 180 of Zac Efron’s depiction in “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile” and that’s not a bad thing. He brings a much darker and creepier persona to Bundy that shows him to be a more methodical and secretive person. There’s something much more tense about him and while that sense of charm and belief that he’s smarter than everyone else around him do come out every now and again, he almost seems full of fear and dread. It’s almost like he knows his time is running out and he’s trying to maintain every last bit of control he can and is trying to find some solace in Bill. It’s easily one of Kirby’s most memorable performances and he brings some darker shades to Bundy that’s fitting for the craziness of his final days and the enigma of his mind that Bill is desperately trying to solve.

Wood is also strong here as we feel him slowly try to grasp Bundy’s psychosis and being subtly shaken by both what he finds and how close he’s getting. As the chaos begins to grow around the prison as Bundy’s execution date eventually comes, Wood is able to show Bill’s calmness and authority well and his determination to truly figure out what makes Bundy tick is the driving force for the film. The idea of the horror in Bill getting close to Bundy is a little weak with how undeterred Bill seems for most of it and there’s an attempt to show connections to women Bill sees in his normal life to his time with Bundy that just never come off clear.

There are certain elements to “No Man of God” that flesh out a different side of Bundy and make for a tense and methodical viewing experience, but overall, there isn’t enough to it to make it memorable and ends up just being ANOTHER Ted Bundy story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: