The X-Files: I Want To Believe
20th Century Fox
Directed by Chris Carter
Produced and Written by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz
Based on the television show “The X-Files”
To be totally fair with you guys I think I should say right up front that I was never much of an “X-Files” fan. Dana Scully’s stubborn refusal to believe in the existence of the supernatural and alien life even when the evidence was shoved in her face seemed to me to border on delusional psychosis. And Fox Mulder should have been ashamed to collect his paycheck every week as he is the worst investigator in fiction. And I gave up on trying to make sense of the so called ‘alien mythology’ that just dragged on and on with no resolution. I did like many of the ‘monster of the week’ episodes such as “Home” which remains one of the scariest hours I’ve ever seen on television. That thing was so freaked out that Fox only showed it twice: it’s original airing in 1996 and it’s rerun four years later. And there was “The Unnatural” about a baseball loving alien who disguised himself as a black ballplayer during the 1940’s. My wife Patricia is the real “X-Files” fan in the family and she watched it religiously during its run on Fox and usually that’s how I got roped into watching it. And that’s how I ended up watching THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE.
We pick up on Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) six years after the show’s end. They’ve both resigned from The FBI but Mulder is still wanted by them on unspecified charges. They’re apparently living together and while Mulder stays at home clipping out stories about Bigfoot and UFO sightings, Scully has returned to her first love: medicine which she practices at a Catholic hospital. She’s become emotionally involved with one case: a young boy with an apparently incurable brain disease. Scully refuses to give up on the boy and plans to use an experimental stem cell procedure to try and cure him. But that’s put on hold when she’s approached by FBI Agent Mosley Drummy (Alvin ‘Xzibit’ Joiner) who asks her to persuade Mulder to assist in finding a missing FBI agent.
Mulder is as paranoid as ever and initially refuses but as Scully calmly and rationally explains, if the FBI really wanted him, they’d have had him by now. Mulder remains skeptical until he finds out that a defrocked pedophile Catholic priest (Billy Connolly) has been having psychic visions that Drummy’s partner, Special Agent Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet) is convinced can lead them to the missing agent. But she needs Mulder to confirm the truth of his ability. The investigation uncovers a whole bunch of body parts in places where body parts have no business being and there’s this weird Russian guy in a beat-to-shit snowplow abducting girls and taking them to a secluded West Virginia farmhouse where experiments worthy of Frankenstein himself are being performed.
Mulder and Scully soon find themselves hip-deep in this mystery, pulled back into the darkness they’ve been trying to get away from as they attempt to uncover what’s happened to the missing girls. And there’s the question of the priest: is he in on the abductions or is he really having psychic visions and simply trying to help? And if he is, why would God give such a gift to a pedophile? And does Scully have the right to perform such a radical treatment on her young patient and cause such great physical and emotional pain to him and his parents?
That’s a lot of questions and that because that’s what THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE is all about: questions. Some of them get answered. Some don’t. Others I didn’t care if they got answered or not. But the characters stand around having long discussions about belief, faith, trust in God, morality and in between they remember that oh, snap! we’re supposed to be solving the disappearance of an FBI agent, ain’t we?
I think that if you’re a dedicated “X-Files” fan then you’re going to get a lot more out of this than I did. It’s not that it’s a bad movie. The performances by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson will definitely make their fans happy as they slip back into Mulder and Scully with no problem. Duchovny and Anderson actually show some emotion in their scenes together as they well should because a considerable amount of screen time is taken up with them discussing their relationship. Xzibit is wasted in his role as it could have been played by anybody and I strongly suspect that Chris Carter just wanted to have a black face in the movie somewhere. I liked Amanda Peet a lot and it was nice seeing Mitch Pileggi as Skinner again. Billy Connelly also turns in a strong performance that I enjoyed. I also liked the look of this movie a great deal. It’s set during the winter and some scenes are actually quite beautiful even though there’s some grisly stuff happening.
But the pacing of this movie is so slow that I actually dozed off once. Watching this movie is like listening to a speech where the speaker talks in the same boring monotone without changing expression on his face or inflection in his voice. And as I said earlier, most of it is the characters standing around and talking to each other. It’s a top contender for the most un-suspenseful suspense movie I’ve ever seen. The ultimate resolution of the mystery behind the abductions eluded me completely and by the time the end credits rolled around I turned to Patricia and said: “This should have been named THE X-FILES: I WANT MY TWO HOURS BACK” It doesn’t feel like a story big enough to warrant feature film status. I didn’t like “The X-Files: Fight The Future” either but at least that movie felt and played like a feature film and had a story big enough to justify the upgrade.
If you’re a fan of the TV show then you’ve probably seen THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE already. And that’s more than cool. This movie was made for you. It’s not a totally unworthy movie but the bottom line for me is that it’s essentially a two-hour episode of the TV series.