The X Files: I Want to Believe
dir Chris Carter
scr Frank Spotnitz, Chris Carter
with David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Billy Connolly, Amanda Peet, Alvin 'Xzibit' Joiner, Callum Keith Rennie, Fagin Woodcock, Adam Godley, Marco Niccoli, Xantha Radley, Nicki Aycox, Mitch Pileggi
release US 25.Jul.08, UK 1.Aug.08
08/US Fox 1h44
The X Files: I Want to Believe
I'm starting to worry: Duchovny and Anderson

connolly peet joiner
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The X Files: I Want to Believe Six years after the series (and a decade after the first movie), agents Mulder and Scully are back on screen and little has changed. It's as dryly funny and even more darkly mopey, which may make finding new fans a bit tricky.

Now working as a doctor, Scully (Anderson) is contacted by two FBI agents (Peet and Joiner) to contact her now-in-hiding partner Mulder (Duchovny), an expert in cases dealing with the supernatural. The case centres on a convicted paedophile priest (Connolly) who's having visions that may help locate a kidnapped agent (Radley). Or maybe he's a fraud. Meanwhile, Scully is struggling with a fatally ill patient (Niccoli), both she and Mulder are grappling with their usual demons, and the current case is turning truly sinister.

Rather than make an action-mystery, the filmmakers opt for an introspective examination of the fragility of faith and hope. It's a bold move that doesn't quite work, mainly because the plot never really comes to life, gurgling and sulking with only brief flashes of action. As usual, Carter and Spotnitz delight in raising lots of questions and spinning the plot in all sorts of directions, then providing very few concrete answers. The result is intriguing and involving, but also surprisingly dull.

Still, it's great to have Duchovny and Anderson back in their iconic roles, and they add terrific layers of wit and emotion, plus subtle sparks of chemistry. We can almost visibly see them carrying their extensive back-stories on their shoulders, which comes dangerously close to miring the film in a melodramatic soapiness. But their wry interaction rescues it. Other roles are badly underwritten, although Connolly quietly chews the scenery every chance he gets. And Rennie is like an evil force of nature as the abductor.

Visually, the film has a lovely snowy-backwoods setting, with touches of Lynchian mischief in the camera work and editing. Creepy characters abound, from glowering priests to sadistic gay Russians. So it's surprising how ponderous it is, indulging in some truly clunky dialog and never stirring up quite enough humour or suspense. It's like an especially gloomy episode of the series, stretched a bit too long. And we miss the ad breaks.

cert 15 themes, violence, some language 22.Jul.08

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The X Files: I Want to Believe nep, colombia: 1/5 "One of the worst movies I've ever seen." (1.Aug.08)
© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall