Don’t let negative reviews and diminishing box office returns fools you. X-Files: I Want to Believe is actually a good movie. By the time I saw the movie on the morning of its third day of release I had already seen a plethora of unenthusiastic reviews and poor weekend box office results. I prepared myself for the worst. But the worst is not what I got — far from it.
X-Files: I Want To Believe is a fast paced thriller full of unpredictable twists and turns. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson easily fall back into their roles as Mulder and Scully, albeit not exactly the same Mulder and Scully we last saw. Now a wanted man, Mulder spends his days hiding from the FBI in isolation. It is painful to see his paranormal investigations reduced to clipping newspaper articles and pinning them to the wall of his cluttered office. His “I Want To Believe” poster still hangs nearby, a reminder of his never-ending quest to find the truth.
Scully is now a practicing medical doctor. She spends her days at a small Catholic hospital. Like on the show, she is still wrestles with her faith in God and her reliance on scientific fact. Scully must confront her indecision when she is faced with a moral decision in the treatment of a terminally ill child. Should she use radical and painful treatments that may or may not save his life, or leave his illness “in God’s hands?” It is at this time the FBI comes back into her life.
The FBI is searching for a missing agent and the only clues to be had are a severed arm buried several feet in the snow and the ramblings of a self-proclaimed psychic. They need Mulder’s help. If Scully can unearth Mulder and convince him to help, all his past “crimes” will be forgiven. No longer caring about Mulder’s constant prying into government cover-ups, the FBI has forgotten all about the X-Files. But have the fans forgotten?
Well, maybe not forgotten, but six years gave fans a long time to imagine what a new Scully and Mulder adventure might involve. Perhaps its rather terrestrial plot is not what they had in mind. Couple that with an ill-timed post-Dark Knight release and a practically non-existent ad campaign and you’ve got a recipe for disappointment at the box office.
Take away all the baggage and the movie works. The story seems somewhat benign at first. Missing persons and severed arms are not all that extraordinary after all. But the arm was discovered because a psychic (brilliantly played by Scottish comedian Billy Connolly) led them to the location – a barren, snow-covered field with no visible landmarks. And the psychic is not just an ordinary psychic (because in the world of X-Files psychics are somewhat commonplace), but he is a defrocked pedophile priest who lives in the creepiest sex-offender halfway house of all time. Is the psychic real, is he just looking for some sort salvation, or is he in on the crime? The story unfolds like an onion, each layer revealing something even more horrifying than the last.
Plenty of thematic elements from the television show are present in this movie. Scully still doubts and Mulder still wants to believe. The central force of Mulder and Scully’s unwavering partnership is still the glue that holds the whole thing together. As always there is that struggle between faith, be it in the unknown or in God, and science. Scully’s moral dilemma concerning her young patient eerily parallels that of the ominous man who may be responsible for the strange events. The question for all involved becomes whether the ends justify the means and the edges of morality and malice become blurred.
And while the movie poses these questions it does not answer them, allowing the viewer to draw their own conclusions on such heavy topics. In the meantime the movie offers a lot of excitement and action and plenty of strange phenomena for Mulder and Scully to sink their teeth into.Powered by Sidelines