The title of The X-Files: I Want to Believe is apt, articulating its story’s (and the cult TV show’s) principal theme with a thudding literalism indicative of its graceless, overtly-state-everything script. Ten years after their last big-screen outing, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) live together and have left the FBI, she to pursue a career as a medical doctor and he because of a nasty dispute with the government bureau to which he’d dedicated his life. The case of a missing FBI agent prompts Scully to convince a bearded Mulder to lend a hand (and shave), which he does after learning that the feds are enlisting the help of a pedophilic Catholic priest (Billy Connelly, sporting crazy-coot white hair) who claims to be receiving psychic visions about the disappearance. Duchovny and Anderson comfortably slip back into their trademark roles, and their rapport, always fraught with sexual tension, is now also colored by a melancholic realization that they may never wholly escape their troubled pasts. Meanwhile, writer/director/series creator Chris Carter systematically provides breadcrumb clues about his mystery, which involve severed limbs, packs of strange dogs, and stem cell research. Unfortunately, his reasonably firm grasp of thriller mechanics can’t enliven a tale that amounts to simply a mundane, overlong one of the show’s stand-alone, mythology-free episodes. I Want to Believe’s lack of anxious chills, however, is less troublesome than the narrative’s pile-up of neat-and-tidy parallels – Scully’s crisis of faith regarding a sick boy at a Catholic hospital is so impeccably harmonized with the primary plot’s concerns, it’s embarrassing – convenient twists and turns, and devotion to confronting its central preoccupation with belief (in oneself, God, science) via banal exposition. “Don’t give up!” is ultimately revealed to be the film’s mantra, though given the contrivances and clunky speeches that abound, it resonates less as a statement about the need to keep the faith than as Carter’s plea to fans whose reward for a decade of patience is merely this forgettable mediocrity.
It does seem like, after all this time, they could have put a little more effort into it. I'm not sure if anyone was putting a lot of faith in this, but if they were, it must be horribly disappointing.
Posted by: Liz | July 24, 2008 at 08:15 PM
Quit assuming that the X-files will be a bad movie. It might not turn out that way, and I think you guys are second-guessing Chris Carter's intentions with the film. It hasn't even opened yet, at least where I live.
Posted by: Supernetuser | July 25, 2008 at 09:02 PM
What do you mean, "quit assuming"? I've seen the movie. It's mediocre.
Posted by: Nick | July 26, 2008 at 06:51 PM