Actors sidelined by lame mystery in new "X-Files" movie

by Eric Melin on July 25, 2008

in Print Reviews

In this age of procedural crime dramas like “CSI” and “Law & Order: Endless Spinoff Unit,” it’s surprising that “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” chucks all that out the window and is content to rely almost solely on the same faith vs. science debate that Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) had for seven seasons on the popular TV show.

It is a welcome treat to see the actors inhabit their old characters, and their considerable charm goes a long way towards making “I Want to Believe” bearable while the mystery plot stays stagnant for almost an hour. What is amazing—and flies in the face of most conventions of the mystery genre—is that once Mulder and Scully are convinced out of retirement by two battling FBI agents (Amanda Peet and Xzibit, who represent the retired agents’ beliefs, only with their sexes reversed)—they do absolutely nothing to advance the case.

x-files i want to believeIt was the constant push and pull of Mulder and Scully’s differing belief systems that made “The X-Files” better than your average TV show. This quality is what ultimately draws the characters so close together. But simply having them stand around and debate the validity of a psychic (Billy Connolly, who plays a Catholic priest who diddled young boys and now bleeds out of his eyes and has visions of an agent’s abduction.) while the mystery creeps forward slowly without them is not exactly seat-of-your-pants suspense.

Scully is saddled with a lame hospital subplot about a terminal young patient she is treating, and she doesn’t want to believe that the boy-raping priest could be sending her a message about her intention to save him. Mulder wants to believe that his unique perspective is good for something other than clipping out newspaper stories and posting them on the wall with thumbtacks, which is really lame “crazy guy” shorthand. (Who still does that anyway? Hasn’t he heard of the Internet? It seems that his particular supernatural obsessions would be better served by a whole web community of like-minded people, not whatever random article he can relate to in the local daily.)

peet xzibit duchovny x-files i want to believeWhen the mystery does finally unfold, it’s weird and disturbing for sure, but it’s also mildly offensive. (If gay rights activists were pissed off about the gay serial killer in “Silence of the Lambs,” they’re going to really be unhappy with series creator and movie writer/director Chris Carter after this one.) Peet and Xzibit’s agents are completely sidelined after being completely wasted for the entire film and the final showdown is absolutely devoid of suspense.

Now the good. Mulder and Scully may be the one of the most interesting couples in mainstream TV. Despite being in a relationship (I’m trying real hard not to reveal spoilers), they still call themselves by their last names as if there was still a need for that formality. The actors have a palpable chemistry and their scenes together are effective, despite the fact that their general outlook remains exactly the same as it was six years ago when the TV show ended.

People don’t change. I get that. For the purpose of an entertaining movie, however, it would have been nice if “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” had changed a little while it was onscreen. It seems like an old-fashioned, tacked-on, carelessly thrown together TV reunion episode, not the exciting franchise reboot I was hoping for.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Josh July 25, 2008 at 8:22 am

i couldn’t have said this better myself.

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2 Josh July 25, 2008 at 8:22 am

i couldn’t have said this better myself.

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3 KYLE KELLEY July 25, 2008 at 2:06 pm

OK Im suing for my money back. lol.

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4 KYLE KELLEY July 25, 2008 at 2:06 pm

OK Im suing for my money back. lol.

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5 Kenny July 25, 2008 at 10:34 pm

I’m a huge X-Files fan, and I must agree with you. I was definitely looking forward to this movie, yet I knew it couldn’t be THAT good. And it wasn’t. The acting and the way the film was made were very good, but the plot was terrible. I could’ve come up with a better storyline. The main theme of the film is faith, but that’s already been covered in the wrapping up of the series years ago. There was no climax. I liken Chris Carter to a poor man’s George Lucas. The only thing I got out of this movie was the joy of seeing Mulder, Scully and Skinner. I just would’ve liked to have seen something special that could appeal to all audiences, at least the Dark Knight is badass.

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6 Kenny July 25, 2008 at 10:34 pm

I’m a huge X-Files fan, and I must agree with you. I was definitely looking forward to this movie, yet I knew it couldn’t be THAT good. And it wasn’t. The acting and the way the film was made were very good, but the plot was terrible. I could’ve come up with a better storyline. The main theme of the film is faith, but that’s already been covered in the wrapping up of the series years ago. There was no climax. I liken Chris Carter to a poor man’s George Lucas. The only thing I got out of this movie was the joy of seeing Mulder, Scully and Skinner. I just would’ve liked to have seen something special that could appeal to all audiences, at least the Dark Knight is badass.

Reply

7 RCM July 26, 2008 at 2:21 am

I think Chris Carter’s direction of this thing was amateurish, even by comparison to most of his work. I like that that it was low budget but everything about the look of this movie felt off. The plot was extremely anti-climatic, so, your right, the only real appeal is seeing these characters back again.

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8 RCM July 26, 2008 at 2:21 am

I think Chris Carter’s direction of this thing was amateurish, even by comparison to most of his work. I like that that it was low budget but everything about the look of this movie felt off. The plot was extremely anti-climatic, so, your right, the only real appeal is seeing these characters back again.

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9 Eric Melin July 26, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Yeah, it was great to see Skinner, and saving him for the end was cool, but it was such a lame moment that its hard to enjoy it. Oh well.

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10 Eric Melin July 26, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Yeah, it was great to see Skinner, and saving him for the end was cool, but it was such a lame moment that its hard to enjoy it. Oh well.

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11 Rodney July 27, 2008 at 4:25 pm

I think the trailers for the movie were a bit misleading as they made it seem like there were going to be aliens and whatnot, and it was disappointed that the only thing “X” was Billy Connolly having a few physic visions.

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12 Rodney July 27, 2008 at 4:25 pm

I think the trailers for the movie were a bit misleading as they made it seem like there were going to be aliens and whatnot, and it was disappointed that the only thing “X” was Billy Connolly having a few physic visions.

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13 Steve M July 30, 2008 at 2:31 pm

I found the movie to be very dull. I never thought I would say that about the X-files. I didn’t care about any of the storylines. I escpecially hated the Scully storyline with the kid with the brain problem & it was just soooo boring.

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14 Steve M July 30, 2008 at 2:31 pm

I found the movie to be very dull. I never thought I would say that about the X-files. I didn’t care about any of the storylines. I escpecially hated the Scully storyline with the kid with the brain problem & it was just soooo boring.

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15 Jack October 12, 2008 at 10:52 pm

I’m a huge X-Files fan and I think this, by far, the worst “episode” I’ve ever seen. When it ended I sat in the theatre trying desperately to find some hidden meaning, someting I’d missed. I couldn’t believe how terrible it was, especialy the ending. Then, at the end of the credits, as the camera pans over the world and comes to rest on Mulder and Scully in a boat wearing bathing suits, and they wave mockingly at the camera, I had a theory: they must have made it bad on purpose!!! Maybe they were tired of being bugged for the movie and didn’t want to be asked to make another. Maybe I’m so starved for a story that I’m making one of my own, but does anyone else think this is possible? Doesn’t it seem impossible for the geniuses who put out nine years of absolute gold to put out a full lengnth movie this awful. It’s not just bad compared to the X-Files, but for any movie!

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16 Jack October 12, 2008 at 10:52 pm

I’m a huge X-Files fan and I think this, by far, the worst “episode” I’ve ever seen. When it ended I sat in the theatre trying desperately to find some hidden meaning, someting I’d missed. I couldn’t believe how terrible it was, especialy the ending. Then, at the end of the credits, as the camera pans over the world and comes to rest on Mulder and Scully in a boat wearing bathing suits, and they wave mockingly at the camera, I had a theory: they must have made it bad on purpose!!! Maybe they were tired of being bugged for the movie and didn’t want to be asked to make another. Maybe I’m so starved for a story that I’m making one of my own, but does anyone else think this is possible? Doesn’t it seem impossible for the geniuses who put out nine years of absolute gold to put out a full lengnth movie this awful. It’s not just bad compared to the X-Files, but for any movie!

Reply

17 Xfilesfan247;-) February 3, 2009 at 9:55 am

I agree this was not the best x files episode, there have been a few that were not as good as others, i just hope this does not stop x files coming back to tv or movie theatres, the fan base is huge and will always make the movies and tv show’s profitable, the original show is still way better than all the modern day choice’s csi has nothing on x files in my opinion ;-)

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18 Xfilesfan247;-) February 3, 2009 at 9:55 am

I agree this was not the best x files episode, there have been a few that were not as good as others, i just hope this does not stop x files coming back to tv or movie theatres, the fan base is huge and will always make the movies and tv show’s profitable, the original show is still way better than all the modern day choice’s csi has nothing on x files in my opinion ;-)

Reply

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