THE X-?FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE (D: Chris Carter, 104 min) Opens Friday (July 25). Screened after press time – see review July 24. Rating: NN
I wanted to believe, too.
I wanted to believe that Chris Carter could still tell an interesting story six years after the show went off the air in a doom-laden cloud of mythology. I wanted to believe that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson had reasons other than the lure of a massive financial payday to bring these characters back to life.
And most of all, I wanted to believe that this new X Files movie would, as its creators are insisting, be an entertaining one-off worthy of the show's legacy - that, after all that chain-jerking and obtuse insinuation, after all the crap about super-soldiers and the Mayan calendar and the black oil, we could just sit back and watch our heroes chase some monsters, or something.
Well, look where belief gets you.
The X Files: I Want To Believe is, as promised, a one-off, with the FBI using Dana Scully, now practising paediatric medicine at a Catholic hospital, to bring the disgraced, exiled Fox Mulder back into the fold when a woman goes missing under mysterious circumstances in rural West Virginia, and a possible psychic connection to the disappearance surfaces in the form of Billy Connolly's vision-afflicted pedophile priest.
From there, it's a series of long, slow conversations about whether it's Mulder or Scully whose faith is really being challenged. (The movie's B-story finds Scully debating whether she should risk putting a terminally-ill child through an experimental stem-cell treatment.)
Meanwhile, director/co-writer/co-producer Carter keeps cutting to a filthy laboratory where foreign doctors are abducting young women and performing some extremely radical transplants. Whatever could it mean?
As with too many episodes of the show, it adds up to a lot less than we're led to expect, and Carter still hasn't figured out how to tie all his creepy plot threads into a satisfying climax: The movie's ending may not make much sense, but once we have the whole picture, the opening makes no sense at all.
And no matter how badly you may want to believe in his characters, and the nine years of history they bring to this adventure, watching Dana Scully use the Google to look up "Stem Cell Research" is just plain sad. Surely the Lone Gunmen had a better search engine at their disposal.