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The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008)

by on 2013/03/25

The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008)

“I thought we were winning, Scully.”

* *

There’s an obvious joke to be made about believing in this X-Files movie, but I’m hesitant to make it. Either I no longer care or I’m just too disappointed.

The experience of suffering this wasted opportunity is like being locked in a box, and tranquillized as people you care about are vivisected out of reach. Appropriately enough, that description resembles the plot itself.

This is not “my” X-Files, but a clumsy serial killing and medical suspense mashup into which familiar players have been led like cattle.

On one hand, we have investigator Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) tracking the disappearance of AB blood-type victims, with the help of a pedophile priest (Boondock Saints’ Billy Connolly). Alternately, doctor Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) struggles to save the life of a likely-terminal patient whose parents are reluctant for her to operate given their strict(er) religious beliefs.

Neither thread is particularly compelling, alone or forced awkwardly together. Scully’s work with stem cells exists to unlock the Mulder plot. No coincidence there, right? And when Connolly’s character says “Don’t give up”, his words are treated with the significance and controversy of Dead Sea Scroll revelations. The most notable supernatural bits are the story’s demands of conceit.

Certainly, it’s great to have Duchovny and Anderson reunited. The six-note theme motif still gives me chills. We see Mulder’s old poster, his sunflower seeds, and a cameo by Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi). With more signature moments like these, nostalgia might overwhelm critique . . . but there aren’t.

The experience is utter routine on multiple levels. It’s not just un-theatrical – a bog-standard freak-of-the-week show without any freaks – it’s also bland in a “day in the life” sort of way. Here’s a detective following dead-end leads on a kidnapping; there’s a doctor caught up in bureaucracy. The threads share no real connection except that their leads are a couple, or are used as insurance, whenever the narrative needs a get out of jail card.

In short, this whole mess barely registers. It’s not an X-Files for fans of the classic episodes, even standalones. It’s more like Scully and Mulder wandered into what Grushenka referred to as a substandard CSI episode. This misfire failed to deliver either on expectations or a satisfying surprise. No wonder potential sequels were summarily tossed. I wish they’d do another, if only to salvage the botching here, though it seems unlikely ever to happen now.

So are you happy now, X-Files? I Want to Believe makes me want to forget you. Deceive, inveigle, and obfuscate indeed.

* *

Rated 14A (Canada) / PG13 (United States)

104 minutes

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