Ten years since their first big screen foray (The X Files) and six since they went off the television airwaves, Scully and Mulder return to the silver screen in The X-Files: I Want to Believe. I’m not entirely sure what enticed the studio to come up with this so late (was there a huge outcry for this) but what I am sure about is they shouldn’t have bothered.
But bothered they did. And in an apparent effort to reinvigorate the franchise and drum up the idling fanboy interest, series creator Chris Carter retook the writing and directing helm while David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were roused out of bed to reprise their roles of FBI agents Mulder and Scully respectively. On paper, the pieces were in place (plus the fact they claimed you didn’t need to be a fan of the show to be enjoy this film), but aside from the originals getting involved there wasn’t anything compelling or intriguing about this thriller. And trust me, I wanted nothing more than to believe . . .
The premise of The X-Files: I Want to Believe is probably the weakest part of the movie. It feels raw and under-prepared – as if what was filmed was really the first draft of the script and no one noticed or cared. Conspicuously missing are the creepy thrills and the “freaky” unknown concept that were staples of the series. Sure the plot has a Josef Mengele-like character and a psychic pedophile priest (played by Billy Connolly) but I hardly consider either of them other-worldly or unexplainable. The bulk of the story is figuring out the sexual tension between Mulder and Scully, with some side projects running in parallel – Scully trying to save a dying child and Mulder coming to terms with who he is.
This leads to the other weak point of the movie – the acting. As I said previously, I’d swear both Duchovny and Anderson were awaken with a bucket of cold water, given 15 minutes to catch their bearing and then thrown in front of the camera. Neither of them wanted to be there. Their performances appeared lackluster and lost. Anderson, especially. She looks haggard, tired and totally disinterested in the role. Further disheartening, is the fact that after all these years, I fully expected the two of them would have some on-screen chemistry. Sure, maybe they’re both looking to doing things other than what made the filthy rich but I figured something like that should have been automatic. But what I saw was shocking – it was almost like seeing two novices working together for the first time. Hell, Amanda Peet, as the new special agent in charge, and her sidekick played by Xzibit mixed better (and as far as I know it was their first time acting alongside each other). The only person deserving of a paycheck is Billy Connolly. His take of a man yearning for salvation was at least palatable.
So yes, The X-Files: I Want to Believe was a complete letdown. Sometimes it is just best to let something that ended on a good note stay in retirement. Believe me, this is one of those times (unless of course the objective was to push away the fan base, to which I say, they’ve started down the right path).