No Man of God (2021) | Discussion, Recommendations & Spoilers | Film Review
No Man of God (2021) is an American crime-drama film directed by Amber Sealy and written by Kit Lesser. The film stars Elijah Wood, Luke Kirby, Robert Patrick and Aleksa Palladino. No Man of God (2021) was released in the United States by RLJE Pictures on August 27, 2021.
No Man of God (2021) begins from the perspective of Bill Hagmaier (Elijah Wood). He is in a car, heading towards some unknown destination. We soon discover he is an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and he is hoping to meet with Theodore (Ted) Bundy in order to build a rapport with him. Bill hopes that by building a solid, trusting relationship with Ted, it will allow him to eventually elicit a confession from Ted about the murders he has been suspected of in several states. With Ted Bundy's death sentence date looming, Bill hopes to get the confession before they run out of time.
Bill is directed to write a letter to Ted in order to visit him in prison. He writes a letter and is surprised that Ted allows him as one of his visitors in prison. He goes to the prison and is directed to a room with Ted, with the prison guard standing just outside in case anything gets out of hand.
At first, it seems that Ted Bundy just wants to prove how much smarter he is than Bill by gathering information about Bill's past and providing insight into Bill's motivations of becoming an FBI agent. Despite Ted wanting to play games and Bill being disgusted by Ted's past history, Bill is intrigued by Ted and finds that Ted is charming and likable at times.
As they build their relationship, Ted tries at several points to prove to Bill they are similar to each other. Bill rejects Ted's perspective, pointing out that even if he could commit murder, he wouldn't because he is a moral man, unlike Ted. It seems that Ted is trying to absolve himself of some of the responsibility of the murders he committed by saying that anyone could do what he did if they were tempted enough. Bill seems to find himself torn between wanting to get close to Ted and elicit a confession and wanting to get far, far away from a man he thinks is a monster.
The rest of the film follows Bill Hagmaier as he tries to extract a confession out of Ted Bundy before his execution date.
If You Like This Film, You May Also Like:
Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer (2020) (Documentary Series on Amazon Prime)
The Clovehitch Killer (2018)
Gone Girl (2014)
Primal Fear (1996)
The Iceman (2012)
Books You Might Like About Ted Bundy:
The Stranger Beside Me (1980) by Ann Rule
The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy (1981) by Elizabeth Kendall
Ted Bundy: Conversations with a Killer (2000) by Hugh Aynesworth and Stephen G. Michaud
The Bundy Murders: A Comprehensive History (2009) by Kevin M. Sullivan
*Discussion contains spoilers
I've read a lot of articles and books about criminal investigations, forensic science, forensic psychology, criminals and serial killers. I was interested in this film because of how much information Bill Hagmaier gleaned from his relationship with Ted Bundy in real life and how that information consequently helped him and the FBI to develop profiles on serial killers.
I've watched a lot of real interrogations where investigators have to sit with criminals and sociopaths and talk to them like they are their friend just to get more information in order to help the victims and I respect them tremendously. I can't imagine listening to the things they reveal and not wanting to leave the room, much less wanting to erase the memory of even knowing who they are.
I thought this film did an excellent job of showing the revulsion Bill Hagmaier felt at who Ted Bundy was and what he did, but still pushing forward and continuing the relationship to help Ted Bundy's victims and future victims of serial killers.
The rest of the film shows Bill Hagmaier continuing to speak with Ted Bundy and how he eventually elicited a very detailed, horrifying confession from him. He learned of what Bundy's true motives were for the crime (complete control of his victims in order to feel powerful) and how very unremorseful, unempathetic and monstrous Ted Bundy really was. In the film, Ted tried to portray himself as a victim of injustice until he realized he really would be put to death.
In real life, his motive for confessing was essentially that he wanted to buy himself more time and even hoped to be extradited to other states that did not have the death penalty to save his own life. He also thought he might be able to circumvent the death penalty by showing how depraved he was and would be studied by professionals to understand serial killers more. Well, he was wrong. Florida wasn't playing around; they wanted Ted Bundy to pay for his crimes. In 1989, citizens of Florida actually gathered outside the prison, excited and happy for Theodore Bundy's upcoming execution.
It had been about ten years since he had been sentenced and he had finally run out of appeals to file. People cheered when they learned he had been executed in the early morning hours of January 24, 1989. I can't really blame them after what he did to all of his victims, never showing true remorse or empathy for what he did to them and refusing to confess until it was to save his own life.
I liked this film. I thought it was a good addition to the material that is out there about Theodore Bundy. I think the work Bill Hagmaier did is impressive and important. Have you seen this film? Are you going to watch it? What did you think if you have seen it? Please share your thoughts below!