Currently on AMC+ from director Amber Sealey is a story based on the real transcripts conversations about Ted Bundy when it is discovered that he is NO MAN OF GOD.
Bill Hagmaier (Elijah Wood) is an FBI agent assigned to the Behavior Science Unit in 1985. His first case given by boss Roger Depue (Robert Patrick) with the unit is Ted Bundy (Luke Kirby) who is on death row. Everyone makes it clear that Bundy does not like the FBI and will not talk to him. After writing a letter, Bundy agrees to meet with Hagmaier. Their first meeting is a test run and the agent understands immediately that Bundy likes to play games.
A year passes when Hagmaier meets with Bundy once again bringing him an ice breaker of gum to the Florida State Prison. They begin with the case of Green River and Bundy begins to share his insights about murder and murderers. During their conversation, Hagmaier gives Bundy a bit of personal information that makes their talk turn dark. He is warned by Depue that getting to close to Bundy is dangerous and that he could end up in a place he can not get out of.
In 1987, Bundy starts to get edgy in their next conversations where he begins to share stories about the women he knew. Frustrated at how people have portrayed him, he shares his thoughts and Hagmaier listens. Asking very few questions, Hagmaier is careful not to upset or frustrate Bundy. It is Bundy who makes it clear that Hagmaier could have had the other life.
It is now 1989 and the Governor of Florida lets it be known that Bundy is to die in seven days even though Bundy is trying for a stay of execution. Depue tells Hagmaier that Bundy is ready to confess everything but will only talk to him. Arriving at the prison, Hagmaier meets Carolyn Lieberman (Aleksa Palladino) who is a civil attorney.
Bundy has changed his tactics believing that telling everything might jeopardize and overturn of execution. He immediately informs Lieberman that Hagmaier is in charge, and she is not happy about it. Hagmaier makes it clear that it is time to come clean and give closure to the families that are waiting for new of their daughters. As investigators come to question Bundy, Hagmaier is now the one that is frustrated.
The clock is ticking and Hagmaier can not believe it when evangelical Dr. James Dobson (Christian Clemenson) comes to do a television interview with Bundy. Down to the wire, a sanity hearing is called but the outcome does not change. Now everything comes to a head, and it is time to hear from Bundy as Hagmaier thought he was prepared for what he is about to hear.
Wood as Hagmaier is a man who is patient and knows exactly how to wait out Bundy’s game of cat and mouse. This is an intense role for Wood but one that I welcome because he is strong, consistent and even kind if that makes sense. The scene where he helps Bundy write a letter is heartfelt toward a man who continues to show no remorse for what he has done. The Wood gives us the opposite when it comes time to go under the water with Bundy. An excellent performance from beginning to end.
Kirby as Bundy is charming, good looking, smart, savvy and knows how to manipulate anyone in front of him in such a way that they do not even realize it is being done. Even his anger seems easily forgiven by those who experience it. When the final scene with Wood comes around, Kirby dives into a dark place and makes sure anyone watching is mesmerized by the terror he so easily speaks about. From that moment on, Kirby’s performance is of a man who can not fathom what is about to happen and still plays games. Excellent!
Palladino as Carolyn is a woman who defends someone the rest of the world can not understand. She makes it clear to Hagmaier why she is doing it but has her own opinion about the man she is helping.
AMC+ is an American subscription video on demand streaming service owned by AMC Networks that was launched in June 2020. The service streams THE WALKING DEAD franchise as well as MAD MEN, FEAR THE WALKING DEAD, A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES and currently THE NORTH WATERS. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.amcplus.com.
NO MAN OF GOD is a powerful film carried out by two actors that spend 90% of the film face to face, emotion to emotion, and frustration to frustration. Wood’s character is of a man not only trying to do his job but find closure for the families. He tries to reach Bundy to get him to understand not only the consequences of his actions but of the cruelty that each day brings.
Kirby brings Bundy from a charming prisoner to a man who has come to realize that his options and his cleverness are not going to save him. Watching these two men come to terms with their lots, one man will eventually not have to worry about it anymore and another man who will not have a moments peace for the rest of his life.
In the end – it is time to go under the water.