MOVIE REVIEW: “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” stars David Duchovny (Californication [TV series], Return to Me), Gillian Anderson (The Last King of Scotland, The Fall [TV series]), Billy Connolly (Brave, The Last Samurai), Amanda Peet (A Lot Like Love, The Way Way Back), Xzibit (Derailed, 8 Mile), Mitch Pileggi (Basic Instinct, Shocker), Callum Keith Rennie (Born to be Blue, Memento), and Adam Godley (Breaking Bad [TV series], The Great [TV series]). It is directed by Chris Carter (The After [TV Movie], Millennium [TV series]), who also wrote it with Frank Spotnitz (The Man in the High Castle [TV series], Ransom [TV series]).
Former agents Fox Mulder (Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Anderson) return to assist the FBI when an agent goes missing, leaving a severed arm in their wake.
Having finished the original run of “The X-Files” recently, it was only fitting to see Chris Carter’s second feature attempt for the IP. And with its release taking place six years since the original run’s finale, one would wonder if he’s got what it takes to resurrect the passion for these characters, this story, and the world.
I wonder how fans felt watching this one in theaters. I had the luxury of watching everything all at once, with no wait time; the only thing that’s different is Mulder and Scully have aged (not horribly, mind you; Gillian Anderson doesn’t seem to age). Really, what I was looking for was some sort of closure. Because let me tell you, the original series finale for “The X-Files” didn’t give much (though I shouldn’t have expected much, given how the series wrapped up all of its arcs by season seven, with two seasons left to go).
How did Carter and company do? Decent. Well… more like “meh.” Aside from some heart-to-heart moments that connect with Mulder and Scully, this “X-Files” venture doesn’t reel me in all too much. There’s some frights, bull-headed FBI agents, and almost a clean slate when it comes to story, all of which doesn’t land perfectly in the execution.
Now, it must be said that I do love “X-Files.” I mean, why else would I be watching this? Let alone the series after the quality certainly dipped halfway through. Mulder and Scully are close to my heart, and seeing them back in action in this venture was enough to keep me at the very least interested. Their internal dilemma (Mulder losing himself, Scully struggling with faith) makes for the true meat of this film, as I wasn’t really invested in the case that was at stake. Things only really got intriguing toward the third act, when the tone of this movie shifted to a pretty dark one (very “Silence of the Lambs” feel). Up until that point, this x-file didn’t have the draw of some of their best ones from the series. And you know what’s funny? There wasn’t much mention of the x-files in this narrative.
I’m not sure what went into the process when crafting this tale. It’s the issue Carter faced when shooting the first movie: not all viewers are fans of the series. So, he’s gotta pen it in a way that will cater to both mainstays and newcomers. Which, in my opinion, sucks. There were certain elements of this story that seemed to neglect the events of the show. Mulder’s sister is brought back up, and how he can’t get over her disappearance. Are you kidding me? He got his closure in season seven (a sad episode too). I get it, not everyone will know, and I guess you need some sort of emotional drive for Mulder to carry on this case, but… I just wish they stuck to their guns. Even Scully reverted back to being a skeptic, after her arc flipped her in the series. It was a true shame seeing that and then thinking “oh boy, the show has no barring on this movie.” Guess we’re in for a one-off than a finale.
The performances in this were pretty good. Duchovny and Anderson slip back into their roles with ease, and the supporting characters do a decent job keeping things moving. I really liked Billy Connolly in this, as he played a dark side that I haven’t seen before (a former priest turned pedophile turned psychic). On top of the acting, the cinematography was solid, with some well-shot and directed scenes that gave a cool visual style. The greys and blues worked in the favor of the grim storyline, and with Mark Snow’s music underneath, “I Want to Believe” made for a good enough movie to look at.
There’s not much more to say with this one. I was happy to see Mulder and Scully work another case, but the characters were flipped to factory reset. The case they followed was decent and had its moments, but things didn’t really get compelling until we approached the final act. Aside from some beautiful scenes shared by our favorite former FBI agents, there’s not much to truly gleam from this feature. FINAL SCORE: 65%= Burnt Popcorn
Here’s the trailer: