It has been over six years since the popular and groundbreaking series, “The X-Files” went off the air leaving some of the series biggest questions unresolved. There was always talk that future films would resolve the alien conspiracy and invasion plotline that fueled the nine seasons of the show, but as time went on, many fans began to wonder if that storyline like so many of the cases Mulder and Scully investigated would remain unanswered.
A dispute between Fox and series creator Chris Carter was often listed as one of the main reasons that the second film had not arrived and thankfully with the resolution of the dispute and the pending writers strike, the new film was approved by the studio and placed into production.
The film picks up years after the series and finds both Mulder (David Duchovny), and Scully (Gillian Anderson), living with one another in a remote home in a rural area. The fact that Mulder is still a wanted man has forced him to lead a life of seclusion, but he still collects newspaper clippings related to bizarre happenings to feed his fascination with the supernatural.
Scully leads a more conventional life, as she has left the F.B.I. to return to her career as a Doctor in a local Catholic hospital.
Scully has been struggling to treat a young boy with a series condition that many of her superiors believe is a lost cause. As if this was not enough concern, Scully is approached by an F.B.I. agent named Agent Drummy (Xzibit), who informs Scully that the F.B.I. is in need of Mulder’s services in finding a missing agent.
Suspecting a trap to lure out Mulder, Scully refutes any knowledge of Mulder, but relays the information to a skeptical and bitter Mulder. The F.B.I. is willing to drop all charges against Mulder and despite his bitterness over his frame up, he agrees simply to help find the agent and clear his name.
Mulder and Scully are introduced to Agent Whitney (Amanda Peet), who is heading the investigation to recover the missing agent. Whitney has ruffled a few feathers at the bureau to bring Mulder back into the mix, but due to some odd facts of the case, and their own lack of leads, they believe Mulder may be the key to unraveling the mystery.
Mulder and Scully soon find themselves in a snow covered, remote area of Virginia where they must content not only with the elements but an ever changing case.
It is learned that a disgraced priest named Father Joe (Billy Connolly), is having psychic visions of the missing agent, and Mulder is tasked with not only helping find the missing agent, but determining the truth behind the visions of Father Joe.
As the case takes one bizarre twist after another, Scully becomes concerned over Mulder’s obsession with the case, as she worries that they are going to lose the new life they have had with one another, and once again be dragged into the old lifestyle they shared, that not only consumed them both, but cost both of them great hardships and suffering.
Scully believes that Father Joe is a sick individual who is faking the visions as his way to atone for his past sins, and believes that her time would be better spent caring for her patient and with Mulder.
Unwilling to let it go, Mulder is determined to find the truth, and will risk everything to uncover the mystery before him.
Writer/Director Chris Carter is to be praised as “The X-Files: I want to Believe” is a daring effort. Carter chose to ignore the standard movie trappings of being bigger and better and toned down the FX and action of the film to instead focus on a more intimate and character driven story.
Carter gambled that the chemistry between Duchovny and Anderson would not only attract fans, but would sustain the film without having to rely on an abundance of gimmicks. To this extent the film succeeds very well as the report between the two leads is amazing and it is a treat to see them both reprising their roles and underscoring that there is still a lot of life left in the characters.
Some may complain that the movie is little more than an extended episode and does not have the action, FX, nor eeriness to have this compare with some of the more memorable moments of the series, but to do so I believe would undermine this very worthy effort.
The film is not only a very clever character driven drama, it has plenty of subtle nods and gems for fans of the series, but holds up extremely well as a stand alone story for those not well versed in the series and it’s many complexities.
The final segment of the film truly shines as not only does it have an ending worthy of some of the best moments of the show, but it challenges the audience with questions of fate, faith, and the nature of life and the roles we are chosen to play.
From the solid acting, eerie locales and lighting and interesting themes of the film, this is a solid and enjoyable film. I only hope we do not have to wait so long for the next one.
4.5 stars out of 5.