Classic Intel: The X-Files: I Want To Believe - TV Review

'faith becomes so dominant thematically that precious little else gets room to breathe'

Fans of the television series will no doubt be familiar with The X-Files predilection (pre-occupation even) with faith. Never has this worldly theme been more apparent though than in the second big screen outing for the franchise, The X-Files: I Want To Believe, in which director and series creator Chris Carter even manipulates the title to display his designs outright.

What this results in is a film where faith becomes so dominant thematically that precious little else - certainly not the plot - gets room to breathe. Paedophile priest Father Joe (Billy Connolly) has faith that prayer will redeem him. Mulder (David Duchovny) still has faith in the paranormal and that Father Joe's visions can save a couple of missing people. Scully (a devout catholic throughout the series) experiences a wavering of faith and is constantly looking for signs that validate it.

There's more. Amanda Peet and Xzibit are bought in as FBI agents. Peet's agent has faith in Mulder, Xzibit's doesn't. Everything about the film revolves around whether people believe or don't and whether what they believe in is valid or illusory. As a mantra, its stifling.

When Carter does escape his hammer-heavy thematic wandering, there's some good work here to craft a decent mystery. Peet and Xzibit are brave casting choices and although they lack chemistry as a partnership individually they work rather well, with Peet's character in particular taken down an interesting direction. Their framing of the story of missing FBI agents is effective and provides a good board off of which to launch a standard Mulder and Scully investigation, where one half of the duo pursues the mystery from one angle and the other from a different one entirely.

What Carter doesn't have though is any sort of satisfying conclusion to speak of. Mulder, who rightly emerges as protagonist, moves forwards through the plot by way of happenstance and short of a few nods to fans of the series (pencils in the ceiling, sunflower seeds and a brief appearance by Skinner) the plot lacks the compulsion and clever plotting of the better forty-five minute long episodes. In a final third which gets completely bogged down in unbelievable science fiction, little of interest emerges and it's all too easy to entirely forget this entry in the X-Files mythology.




The X-Files: I Want To Believe was showing on Film4 in the UK.

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'Some of the complication comes from the script–Carter and co-writer Frank Spotnitz take most of the movie to reveal the basic ground situation between Duchovny and Anderson, probably because it works so well' - The Stop Button

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