The X-Files: I Want To Believe

UK release date: 1 August 2008

cast list

David Duchovny
Gillian Anderson
Billy Connolly

directed by
Chris Carter
If you thought being a Star Wars fan was rough over the past decade, try being a fan of the 1990s television series The X-Files over the same time span. After six seasons (1992-1998) that ranged from good to great and included a solid 1998 big-screen adventure, dedicated X-philes were subjected to three dreadful seasons (7 through 9) of uninspired storytelling and unsatisfying conclusions before a dreary wrap up that left most grateful to see it put out of its misery.

For one reason or another (house payments, perhaps?), series creator Chris Carter felt that there were enough fans left out here to justify a second feature film, one that would stand alone from the many long-running storylines from the series. While that prospect looked promising on paper, what made it up on the screen in I Want to Believe is enough to justify one thing: the fans who gave up on the show years ago were certainly on to something.

Strange things are afoot in the wintry landscape of West Virginia. Women, including an FBI agent, have been disappearing, and both the Feds and the local law officials are reaching dead ends with their investigations. Their only leads come from a convicted paedophile Catholic Priest, Father Joe (Billy Connolly), whose psychic visions lead the law to the discovery of severed body parts buried in the snow.

Desperate for help, the FBI turns to Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), who has been on the run for the past six years, and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), who is now a doctor at a Catholic-run hospital. Neither really wants to come back to this line of work, and Scully really has no desire to be around, let alone work with, a paedophile priest who may or may not be connected to the events. But as the case progresses, the duo finds their faith and belief in discovering the truth put further and further to the test.

Theres no great mystery here: The X-Files: I Want to Believe is as lazy, dull and uninspired as films come these days. The lackadaisical aura of the production could be forgiven had this movie been slapped together right after the conclusion of a particular season or if the film had been written and directed by people who had never worked on the show. But with Carter not only co-writing with long-time contributor Frank Spotnitz, but having had a full six years to come up with something, theres no excuse. Where the first X-Files was confident and cinematic this is simply limp.

So what do fans get for their allegiance? A confusing, heavy-handed downer that spins its creative wheels while adding nothing new to the X-Files universe. The story is a confusing mess of characters that are either one-dimensional or bored (despite the best efforts of Duchovny, Anderson and Connolly).

Carter’s personal agenda (put it in a blog, Chris) of serial killer clichs, faith and belief is ham-fistedly delivered, and the lifeless, by-the-numbers directing doesnt do the screenplay any favours. It’s so lethargic and pedestrian that it felt as if he turned on the camera, left the set and went off to count his cut of the show’s syndication revenues.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe isn’t the worst film to be released this summer. That honour still belongs to the stunningly bad eco-thriller The Happening. But in many ways, this film actually is worse than M. Night Shyamalan’s cinematic eyesore. I Want to Believe could – and should- have been a good film. The talent was in place, and has proven to be more than capable in the past to deliver some genuine scares and creepiness, not to mention genuine emotion being characters. I wanted to believe that they would pull it off one more time and close the franchise on a positive note. Instead, I tend to believe that this was nothing more than a case of take the money and run. Rest in peace, X-Files. Here’s hoping we have no more sightings.

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