For the sake of full disclosure, I am a card-carrying X-Filesophile. The reason I have been since the start of the TV series is vividly evident by watching the latest feature: "The X-Files: I Want to Believe." It's not much different in tone and storyline than any other X-File on file. The only things anew are Mulder and Scully looking pleasantly 40-ish and Assistant Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) not being as big an a-hole as he used to be. The script by director and creator Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz is crisp, good and, as always, intelligent (No dumb-down action here).
Anderson is a first-rate actor and ought to be doing lots of other stuff. Duchovny is totally back in the saddle again; smart, breezy and solid. He does do other parts more often than his onscreen X-Files partner. His other recent big-screen appearance was "Things We Lost in the Fire" with Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro.
"The X-Files" has always been about either extraterrestrial beings and objects; alien abductions; big, dark government conspiracies; psychic phenomenon or strange, horrific health problems and grisly scientific experimentation with creepy characters. Psychic phenomenon with generous amounts of grisly scientific experimentation by creepy Russian guys is on the "I Want to Believe" menu.
A female FBI agent has gone missing in a snowy, West Virginia winter (shot in British Columbia ). Body parts of different people are discovered in the ice. Scully is now a full-time medical doctor. Mulder is on the lam from the FBI (sort of), holed-up in his usual reclusive style, retired, taking residence in rural Appalachia.
The missing agent case appears to have a person of interest involved with psychic powers: a repentant, defrocked priest guilty of molesting boys. He's called Father Joe and well-played by Glasgow-born actor, Billy Connolly. Although Dr. Scully is busy trying to save the life of a very sick boy in hospital, she agrees to come on board to help find the missing FBI agent since Father Joe is divining evidence on the case, psychically. She implores Mulder to join her in the search with a promise from the FBI to forgive him his trespasses. After some great Fox 'n' Dana back-and-forth, he shaves his beard and agrees. Or maybe it's he agrees then shaves his beard. Anyway...
It's another weird, cold and creepy ride for X-Files fans everywhere as well as anyone who's not yet been introduced to the Truth, according to Mulder, That's Out There. This second feature film is better than the first, even though "Fight for the Future" was more about stranger stuff of other worlds and what aliens could have done millions of years ago that might spread a deadly virus among contemporary Earthlings.
Musically, this second feature's soundtrack boasts a cello lead playing the baleful X-Files melody, fore and aft. There's some extraordinary film editing in a shadow and light chase scene. And Amanda Peet is seen a good deal in "Believe," moon-eyeing Mulder in her role running the effort to find the disappeared FBI agent. She falls hard in the film.
Chris Carter has laced great irony into his legendary characters. Mulder, the agnostic, is the one who believes in all this X-Files stuff. Scully, the theist and physician, is the skeptic. Did I mention something about contrasts and differences here earlier? Add to that two absolutely attractive characters who are obviously in love with each other, but so professional and so respectful of one another, it took years of seasons of episodes for there to be any hanky-panky. Talk about tension in subtext. Well, Mulder and Scully resume their banter in "I Want to Believe" while revealing only with their eyes they'd rather be making out than hassling about how to solve a case and do what's best for our galaxy.
Even though you seek the truth out there and want to believe that you shouldn't give up looking for it, you must never forget: Trust No One.
(SFX: Cello and orchestra up and out.)
"The X-Files: I Want to Believe" preview