Director: Amber Sealey
Starring: Elijah Wood, Luke Kirby, Aleksa Palladino, Robert Patrick, W. Earl Brown
Run Time: 100 mins
No Man Of God is a crime mystery that delves into the final years before Ted Bundy’s execution and the complicated relationship formed between the notorious serial killer and FBI Special Agent Bill Hagmaier. The film begins in 1985 and we first witness many Special Agents passing on the job but the newcomer Hagmaier accepts the challenge. There have been several pieces that have explored Bundy recently, most famously Joe Berlinger’s Netflix series, Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and his excellent companion film, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. Zac Efron played the reviled killer in the film and his performance was top-notch, proving his versatility and shaking off his High School Musical image. This more focussed piece is directed by Amber Sealey and is written by C. Robert Cargill under a pseudonym of Kit Lesser. Cargill is an accomplished writer, most famous for his collaborations with director Scott Derrickson with films such as Sinister and Doctor Strange.
No Man Of God is an interesting exploration into the final years of Bundy’s time on death row and his relationship with Hagmaier. Cargill’s script is sharp and delves into the human psyche. The majority of the film is just the two character conversing and the trap that films of this type can fall into is that they are not entertaining but this is not the case here.
The performances are both very solid – it is refreshing to see Elijah Wood in a leading role as Hagmaier, capturing his intelligence and philosophical outlook and he is particularly convincing when he is chilled by the words that come out of Bundy’s mouth. Luke Kirby as Bundy is quite literally a commanding screen presence as cinematographer Karina Silva frames him as towering over Hagmaier to invoke him as a threat. There is no doubt that his character is capable of horrific acts. Zac Efron remains the definitive screen portrayal as he offered more charisma and a greater element of mystery. There is also a pleasant performance from Robert Patrick, another actor who is selective with what he performs in, as Hagmaier’s senior.
The film is nothing more than just ‘good’ though. Unfortunately, it’s just not very cinematic and lacks any flair behind the camera. The former is not necessarily a minus but director Amber Sealey is clearly aware of this and unsuccessfully splices cheap-looking, dingy montages in between scenes with a techno-score. No Man Of God is an interesting watch and it justifies its existence with its exciting performances but the material requires a more experienced hand behind the camera to make it more exciting.