“Don’t give up”
Wow, six years later and Chris Carter decided that his old show “The X-Files” still had relevance. I’ll admit to having loved the show when it first aired, diligently watching each episode for the first five or so seasons to see where the mythology arc would lead. Yeah, the one-off shows were fun, the occasional monster/killer/paranormal weirdness, but when they continued the alien conspiracy tale, my ears and eyes stayed glued. Black Oil, Krycek, and Cancer-Man made up the ultimate trifecta in 90’s television for me. With all that said, I was anticipating the return of Scully and Mulder to the big screen with The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Maybe not completely excited, I really just wanted to see what they had to say, maybe get a nice extension to the conspiracy, because really, why else would they do it? Well it appears that answer is money and the hope to cash in on nostalgia and salivating fans. Besides the mention of Mulder’s sister’s abduction, the alien plotline is vacant, Black Oil plays no part, (and they have to kick us while we’re down showing the bleeding tears, at first making me question if the oil was upon us), and what we are left with is more psychically charged “CSI” than the “X-Files” I know and remember well.
I admit to not knowing what happened to these characters later on in the series. How did they write Mulder off the show? What ever happened between these two agents with all kinds of repressed sexual tension? I kind of got my answers during the course of the film, if not the details, at least the circumstances. It seems as though Carter wrote this tale to give some closure to the team he formed back in 1993. We learn how their relationship has progressed amidst his hiding from the FBI and pretty much underground mentality as well as Scully’s journey into the actual practice of medicine to save lives. The crime on hand to be solved—a Russian black market organ transportation scheme—takes a backseat to the evolution we see as our two heroes glimpse back into the lives they thought they left behind. It is somewhat unfortunate because the groundwork was laid out for some creepiness, but instead the blood and psychotic surgeries stay on the periphery.
It is somewhat sad to say too, but the new faces introduced are all pretty much unnecessary. Xzibit is way out of his element as a by the books, not a skeptical bone in his body FBI agent. He has one expression and one job throughout: to cast doubt and play the downer. It is tiresome. As is Amanda Peet, an actress I generally enjoy. She is no more than a pawn used to get Mulder out of the cave he holed up in. Whatever hard chick persona she attempts is annoying and the hidden “I kinda dig Fox” agenda seems to bubble to the surface every once in a while, (the scene after he shaved), but never becomes anything. Both characters are wasted and could have been cut down immensely to just random agents that hire Mulder to help them out.
Don’t think I hated them all though. When the role was relevant to the plot, the actors did a bang up job. Billy Connolly is fantastic as the psychic, ex-priest, pedophile Father Joe. He plays it up at all times and borders on crazy while coming across as genuine in every action he takes. When you put him and Scully in a room together, sparks fly. Well one screaming match towards the end in his dorm is a bit wooden, but for the most part they play off each other well. As for villainy, who better than the best manifestation of psychological terror on TV with his Leoben role in “Battlestar Galactica”? Callum Keith Rennie plays with a nice Russian accent and just does what he does, creepy ulterior motive smile working splendidly.
But really, this film is about a return to the roles that made them for David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. Yeah Mitch Pileggi gets a bone thrown his way too, but that one is more for the fanboys than anything else. I have to say, it was exciting seeing these two back onscreen together as the skeptic and the believer. Duchovny’s quips bring the funny like always; however, I couldn’t help but think that his role in “Californication” added to the humor for me. Both were made for these characters and they seem to be comfortable returning to them after a half-decade hiatus. They brought me back into the world of paranormal crime, I just wanted a little more to the story. I get the whole “never give up” creed and it is beaten into our heads repeatedly. What about not giving up on the search for proof of alien existence? That is the story I wanted and hoped to see at least a cursory nod to. Maybe the mythology was wrapped up with the end of the series, I don’t know having not watched it. Either way, I wanted more “X-Files” and less crime scene evidence disproving the psychic connection so obviously at work. Don’t let science ruin your beliefs, Mulder never did and I won’t either. Maybe in another five years we’ll get the movie I’ve been waiting for—Fox finally being reunited with Samantha.