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The X-Files: I Want to Believe



When the “X-Files: Fight the Future” debuted in theaters a decade ago, the TV series that spawned the film centered around unexplainable paranormal phenomena was at the height of its commercial popularity. By the time the series ended in 2002, its star, David Duchovny, was knee-deep in a lawsuit with Fox Broadcasting over syndication contracts and had quit full-time production.

Duchovny’s departure caused the series irreparable harm, directly leading to the show’s decline, because he had to be written out. The alien “mythology,” which the series was known for, became muddled, confusing, and impossible to follow. The stand-alone “monster” episodes suffered as well; after nine seasons, it seemed as though creator Chris Carter had simply run out of ideas.

Regretfully, not much has changed for Carter in the idea department. “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” leaves the viewers wondering why, six years after a very tired series ended, the film was made in the first place.

Former FBI agents Fox Mulder (Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Anderson) are no longer chasing down aliens and seem to barely know each other. Mulder is on the run from the FBI and living in isolation in the middle of nowhere. Scully is a doctor at a hospital, working with a boy who has a terminal brain disease. But when a young FBI agent goes missing, the feds come a-knockin’ on Scully’s door. They need Mulder; he is apparently the only person qualified to find the missing woman.

Within the first 15 minutes of the film, cracks in the story line already show. The stakes are never high enough. Why Mulder is called in over a run-of-the-mill missing person’s case is never explained.

Before the film debuted, the plot was kept under strict lock and key. All that fans were told was the movie would bring the “X-Files” back to its roots of pushing the boundaries of science and focus on the monster-of-the-week rather than any of the show’s complicated folklore.

But the science, as well as any interesting paranormal aspect, is completely absent here. There’s no mysterious black oil killing masses of people, no strange lights in the sky, and no sewage monsters or child demons. The only thing paranormal about the situation is that the FBI is randomly working with a pedophile priest (Connolly) claiming to have psychic visions of the missing agent. How did the FBI begin working with this man? No idea. It’s never discussed.

Throughout the film’s one hour and 40 minutes, you expect something really dramatic to occur, an unexpected twist, or a shift into the paranormal realm that the series was known for. It never happens. The movie feels more like an extremely boring and long episode of “CSI” than on of “The X-Files.” The characters have little or no motivation for any of their actions, and the dialogue is strained.

The payoff at the end of the film is equally disappointing. We find out very little about the men who kidnapped and murdered the agent, or what they were doing with her in the first place. We know they are Russian, harvest organs from women they kidnap, and perform some bizarre, Frankenstein-like experiments on dogs and people, but we are never told why or what these tests are all about.

Carter had an excellent opportunity to revive his once Emmy-winning series; all he had to do was give audiences something to believe in. Instead, he provides a highly forgettable film that has no idea what it wants to be or who it’s appealing to. As Mulder said to Scully in the first episode of season two, “I wanted to believe, but the tools have been taken away.”