It’s been a long time since Agents Scully and Mulder last delved into the mysterious world of the paranormal. Now they’re back with their second big screen excursion, The X-Files: I Want To Believe. Is the chemistry still there, and in the end do we believe? Well, no. Here’s my review, this time without significant spoilers.
The story picks up some time after the TV series’ conclusion, with both agents having left the FBI. Scully (Gillian Anderson) is working as a doctor at a Catholic hospital, and Mulder (David Duchovny) is hiding out in a spare room with a bunch of newspaper clippings and working on his beard. FBI agents Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet) and Mosley Drummy (Xzibit) contact Scully with an offer to convey to Mulder. If she locates and brings him back to work on this One Last Case, the FBI will drop any charges against him, and he can give up his holed-up seclusion number. Of course, this brings Moose and Squirrel back into the investigatory game as they search for a missing agent and deal with a pedophilic priest-turned-psychic (Billy Connolly).
After such a long time, it feels like the cast and writers largely have forgotten what made The X-Files a classic. Gone is the pervading feeling of danger and conspiracy, and gone are any real trappings of the paranormal. Worst of all, gone is the great chemistry between Scully and Mulder, which really hurts here, as the movie boils down to a romantic drama between them with an X-File tacked on. Mulder’s character largely is unchanged from how we remember and love him, and David Duchovny still has the mannerisms and speech down pat. Scully, on the other hand, seems to have been replaced by an alien double. She’s turned dour and more serious than the script warrants, and any development she gained through the course of the TV series is out the window, Mulder-snogging aside.
Scully is a wet blanket on the movie that saps any potential joy out of the revival, but none of the other characters fare much better. Billy Connolly is embarrassingly cast in a shallow role that seems to want to get some sort of opinion or emotion from us, but it leaves me completely flat. And I just don’t know what Xzibit is doing in this movie. His character is the obligatory naysayer, always doubting anything Scully and Mulder say or do. It’s a common archetype from the TV series, but Xzibit doesn’t know how to play it. He comes off as just a jerk, as opposed to being a tightlaced and levelheaded governmental jerk. Amanda Peet is a little better as the agent in charge, but in the end there are a lot of missed moments and opportunities for her character. Aside from Mulder being great, the only other fantastic acting and characterization comes from someone who enters the story in the latter half of the film.
As if a lacking X-File and strangely disaffected acting were not bad enough, the pacing is horrible. The plot of the movie does not tie into any of the previously established series mythology, so it’s the equivalent of a monster-of-the-week episode. That’s great, because I always thought the one-off episodes were the best ones of the TV series. The problem here is that the movie feels as if it were written as a standard TV episode and then stretched to full feature length. It suffers from padded scenes, unnecessarily tedious dialogue, and plodding stretches where nothing happens that very nearly put me to sleep.
I was a fan of the X-Files throughout the run of the TV series, and I had hope that this movie would reinvigorate the franchise. Sadly, it does the opposite, very likely putting the final nail into the coffin.
Rating: 1.5 / 5 Stars