I want to believe that Mulder and Scully live happily ever after, but it’s now very apparent that “The X-Files” as we knew them are irrevocably dead.
After an woman goes missing in West Virginia, the FBI are contacted by a man (Billy Connolly) who claims to be having visions connected with the missing person’s case. The two assigned agents (Amanda Peet and Xzibit) aren’t sure that their mysterious psychic can be trusted but have nothing else to go on, so they reluctantly turn to the only person they’ve heard of with any expertise in unnatural phenomenon, disavowed agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny). Unfortunately, Mulder’s still wanted by the FBI on fraud charges, and only former agent Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) may still know where to find him.
This is it? After six years waiting to find out what happened to agents Mulder and Scully, all we get is an unmemorable cop episode with a common psychic as the supernatural element? Why even call it “The X-Files” at all? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to call it “Whatever Happened to Mulder and Scully?” And all this is set once again in West Virginia, that mystical land forgotten by time that Chris Carter believes is populated with displaced pedophiles and elderly drones who remember nothing and discard all important paperwork. Only fans still interested in the no-longer platonic relationship of Fox and Dana have anything to look forward to here, because there’s just nothing here that’s epic, important, or even interesting enough to care about.
While not as bad as The Happening, the story is one that could have happened any time between conspiracy episodes in the early years of “The X-Files.” The difference is in the chemistry between David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, both at ease in their familiar characters and closer than ever. But with a story yielding one small element in common with “The X-Files” and a plot executed independently of Fox and Dana’s interaction, everything seems like a distraction to keep milking they same will-they, won’t-they, do-they, don’t-they relationship that’s been dragged out far too long already. As poor as Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was, it made for a better X-Files film than this.
As I mentioned a short wile before the release of I Want to Believe, the core of “The X-Files” has always been an FBI believer and skeptic investigating the unexplained. Anything and everything else that happened outside of that formula was part of the show’s history, and this new film is completely dependent upon knowing that history to get any enjoyment out of it. If all that this was intended to be was a love letter to the fans, then it should have been about Fox and Dana in trouble, whether they were about to be assimilated, cut up as fish food, or demonically possessed to carry out an assassination that brings about Armageddon (all good ideas, Chris!) The sum total of The X-Files: I Want to Believe isn’t the tribute to what made the series great that we’d hoped for, just a sad reminder of why we lost interest to begin with.
(a one skull recommendation out of four)