No Matter How Hard You Believe Otherwise, ‘The X-Files: I Want to Believe’ Most Anemic Story Yet

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Average: 2.3 (3 votes)
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Following an addictive TV series that spanned from 1992 to 2002, I wanted to believe “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” would more dynamically pay homage to its television success than Chris Carter’s first film attempt in 1998. In take two, though, it didn’t happen.

Carter – who serves as the writer, director and producer of the 2008 film “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” along with the TV series creator – not only has penned an even more anemic script than his film a decade ago but also manages to serve even less justice to a distinctly original TV series that has catered to people’s fantasies and curiosities everywhere.

Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are drawn back into the world of the X-Files in The X-Files: I Want to Believe
Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are drawn back into the world of the X-Files in “The X-Files: I Want to Believe”.
Photo credit: Diyah Pera

The X-Files series creator/executive producer Chris Carter directs The X-Files: I Want to Believe
“The X-Files” series creator/executive producer Chris Carter directs “The X-Files: I Want to Believe”.
Photo credit: Diyah Pera

What bewilders the mind most blatantly about “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” – aside from the strong character interactions based on comprehensive character development dating back 16 years now – is that its central plotline hardly feels like something from “The X-Files” at all.

No UFOs. No aliens. Hardly anything supernatural. There’s just a psychic character who – while being a central slice in this story – isn’t such a wild stretch from today’s real world.

In reality, some people actually believe in psychic abilities. This as the one and only “The X-Files”-like plotline is tame in contrast to some of the outlandish theories and concepts typically explored in the TV series.

David Duchovny as Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully again reprise their infamous roles. This time, though, they’re both not working for the FBI. Scully’s employed as a doctor and Mulder’s just a hermit with a beard who again enjoys sticking pencils in his ceiling. That is, of course, until Carter’s pen starts dipping in Hollywood ink.

Father Joseph Crissman (Billy Connolly) – a dark, complex figure with a haunted past – leads a team of FBI agents to a critical discovery in The X-Files: I Want to Believe
Father Joseph Crissman (Billy Connolly) – a dark, complex figure with a haunted past – leads a team of FBI agents to a critical discovery in “The X-Files: I Want to Believe”.
Photo credit: Diyah Pera

Then a “mission” tempts them to come out of FBI retirement and back into the “darkness” of their former selves to thwart a serial killer and save people’s lives. Carter dreadfully transitions from Scully “not knowing where Mulder is” to all of a sudden hopping in bed with him, kissing him and even admitting that she loves him.

Unlike stories of yesteryear that flirted their physical and emotional magnetism, this time there’s no foreplay. Though things are still kept “G” rated, they do hop right in nonetheless.

FBI agent Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet, left), Fox Mulder (David Duchovny, middle) and FBI agent Mosley Drummy (Alvin 'Xzibit' Joiner) pursue clues in wintry Virginia in The X-Files: I Want to Believe
FBI agent Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet, left), Fox Mulder (David Duchovny, middle) and FBI agent Mosley Drummy (Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner) pursue clues in wintry Virginia in “The X-Files: I Want to Believe”.
Photo credit: Diyah Pera

The reason Mulder is called on by an FBI team – led feebly by a miscast Amanda Peet – is because he has experience dealing with cases involving psychics. Despite grave professional differences between the bureau and the former agent, they welcome Mulder back out of urgent necessity. Of course, Scully joins him at the hip.

While the interactions between Duchovny and Mulder typically make for gripping screen time and their individual performances are again the most redeeming value of an otherwise underwhelming film, Billy Connolly’s supporting role as Father Joe is one of the brightest and most unexpected stars of the film.

He’s interestingly scripted as a pedophile Catholic priest who psychically sees visions that assist in current homicides all while internally brewing his own unfortunate condition. Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner as an FBI agent delivers among the most indicated and unconvincing performances seen on screen in recent memory.

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Not to be underestimated, though, there’s another principal star in this film beyond Duchovny, Anderson and Connolly: the snow.

With the only valiant plotline centering around the ominous nature of the psychic and the always interesting professional and personal chemistry between Mulder and Scully, the decision to film in such wintery doldrums gave the film a much-needed personality where it was otherwise lacking.

While some avid followers of the TV series may feel vindicated by this second film and might appreciate some of the inside subtleties you’d only know from following its rich history, non-followers won’t be equally satiated.

Merely from the performances by Duchovny, Mulder and Father Joe in a film that’s deficient of a climatic reveal, “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” ultimately lacks enough meat to earn this critic’s recommendation.

“The X-Files: I Want to Believe,” which is directed by Chris Carter and stars David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly and Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner, opened everywhere on July 25, 2008.

HollywoodChicago.com editor-in-chief Adam Fendelman

By ADAM FENDELMAN
Editor-in-Chief
HollywoodChicago.com
adam@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2008 Adam Fendelman, HollywoodChicago.com

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