"So you believe in these kinds of things?"
"Let's just say that I want to believe."
Creator/producer Chris Carter makes his directorial feature film debut as main characters Fox Mulder and Dana Scully return to the big screen in X-Files: I Want to Believe. It’s pretty tame when compared to most current thrillers and that’s the film’s strength. It's nice counter-programming that explores the familiar themes of science and God/religion in a mature, intelligent manner. The end results satisfy, they just don’t really entertain on a high level.
This solid film has some moments, but the low key results fail to capitalize on the show’s two main elements – “little green men” and fanatical conspiracy theories. It certainly could’ve used a dazzling plot twist or two to liven up the proceedings a bit, though some early references like pictures of George W. Bush and Herbert Hoover in a government office provide some referential chuckles.
David Duchovny stars as Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson also headlines as Dana Scully. This duo has certainly endured many dynamics during the television show’s nine-year run. This installment occurs ten years after its predecessor hit theaters at a key point during the show’s run. The time separation offers filmmakers opportunities to shake up the establishment, but instead they stay the course.
Carter’s plot, co-written with X-Files producer/writer Frank Spotnitz, mostly concentrates on Mulder and Scully amid morbid drama and some disturbing and ideological themes while boosting the romance between this enduring couple. Scully’s profession as a specialized doctor and Mulder’s discreditation yields more suffering for the couple as they toil behind the scenes in their work.
The plot slowly builds on the meaning of life with very personal themes instead of personal redemption or closure. “Why bring a kid in the world just to make him suffer,” Scully says about one of her patients who is slowly slipping away. The bulk of the plotline arrives when a skeptic Scully teams up again with Mulder in the field for a federal investigation centering on a missing government agent and a psychic named Father Joseph Crissman, played by Billy Connolly.
Psychic events have occurred in the TV series before (see the 1995 episode "Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose" featuring the late Peter Boyle). In this film, the psychic links push Mulder and Scully’s relationship to new levels as they’re both thrust back into a world that needs their unique insight. “It could have been you or me,” Scully says to Mulder to justify their involvement. The deeper they get, they more they realize how simple their actions become. They don’t have to rely on their considerable intelligence, experience, or research, only their hearts.