Based on the weak box office results that were still being tabulated at press time, it’s safe to say that writer/director Chris Carter’s big screen follow-up to his onetime hit Fox television series is not attracting any newbies into the sci-fi-filled world of FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). Following the show’s series finale by six years-and the duo’s last foray into film by 10-one can’t help but be surprised. Sure, the adventure-filled antics of believer Mulder and skeptic Scully had one of the largest “cult” followings of the past 20 years, but apparently even the diehards can’t overpower the might of a new Batman.
All that said, The X-Files: I Want to Believe is a fun enough romp through a grisly (and thoroughly alien-devoid) case that brings a now-bearded and reclusive Mulder out of hiding and back into the world of unsolved mysteries-with Dr. Scully in tow, of course. Amanda Peet and Xzibit costar as the fresh-faced agents in need of Mulder’s help. And Billy Connolly works wonders as an aging priest who allegedly sees visions of crime victims in between bouts of stigmata. Picking up long after both agents say “goodbye” to the Bureau, I Want to Believe does its best to create a story that moves independently of the show’s convoluted conspiracy theories, theoretically making the plot accessible to all moviegoers. But here’s where the problem with Carter’s brainchild lies.
By steering clear of all the confusing storylines about alien invasion, government corruption, human experimentation, black oils, terminal cancers, and disease pollinating bees, I Want to Believe basically becomes a high-budget, big screen episode of “C.S.I.” What makes the movie digestible is watching Duchovny and Anderson resurrect their roles and play off each other with the same chemistry that made the show so good during its televised run. But that pairing alone is not nearly enough to get the uninitiated to throw down 10 bucks for a ticket. Fans of The X-Files will be content to enjoy a decently paced mega-episode that provides in-jokes and insights into the whole Mulder-Scully relationship debate. But for those who never got hooked, there’s nothing to see here.