X-Files: I Want to Believe

AH well. Makes a change, I suppose.

Over the past few weeks these pages have been home to some of the best summer movies for many a year.

The Dark Knight. Kung Fu Panda. WALL-E. And yes, Mamma Mia!

Whereas this week, we have...The X Files: I Want To Believe. Henceforth, The X Files: I Want To Believe That If They're Bringing Back A Popular TV Series For A One-Off Film, It's Going To Be A Darn Sight Better Than This Guff.

X Files creator Chris Carter's boast from day one has been that this film was going to be "a real stand-alone movie." Which, in a way, is right.

Because if you head to the ticket queue, the likelihood is you're going to stand alone, pal.

Not that this new feature-length episode of the much-loved 1990s paranormal series is an outright disaster.

But let's be frank. If you're trying to recreate the magic of a TV show that was most famous for its crazy monsters, aliens and assorted nut cutlets, your No1 choice for a villain is...probably not going to be Billy Connolly as a child-abusing priest.

Because that's not X Files. That's Paedo Files.

The plot is nearly entirely free of spooks, kooks and paranormal activity, and could have been plucked from a weak episode of any me-too TV thriller show.

A young FBI agent has gone missing, and the pervert priest Father Joseph Crissman (Connolly) claims he's had visions of her whereabouts.

An FBI bigwig—played, preposterously, by Xzibit, the bloke from Pimp My Ride—drafts in ex-agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) to work out if Crissman's visions are legit.

It's a real thriller of an investigation, which basically runs along the following lines:

Mulder: He's telling the truth.

Scully: No he isn't.

Mulder: Yes he is.

Scully: No he isn't.

(Crissman finds a clue.)

Mulder: See? He is.

Scully: No he isn't. (Repeat.)

When the fate of the missing agent is finally revealed it's hard to muster up much excitement because it feels massively inconsequential.

Forget X Files—file this one under Y, for Y bother. Because, just like Sex and the City before it, it feels less like an actual film than an excuse to wring one final pay cheque out of die-hard fans.

Also like SATC, it's not even like a strong episode of the show—just a fair to middling one. Even proper X Files wing-dings will struggle to get much out of it.

Yes, there is a scattering of references to mega-obscure plot points, such as a bizarre rant from Scully about the fate of Mulder's sister Samantha. (What do you mean you don't remember season seven, episode 150?)

And there's a guest appearance by "fan favourite" bald character Walter Skinner (although to me and the other 99 per cent of humanity who won't recognise him, it means about as much as a cameo from Duncan Goodhew).

Plus there's perhaps the clumsiest movie gag of the year. Mulder and Scully spot a grinning photo of George W Bush on the wall of the FBI headquarters and give each other a loaded glance, while the mysterious X Files whistle plays in the background. It did, admittedly, get a laugh. But what's the joke?

That they're aware of some shadowy conspiracy to keep Dubya in power? That they know Dubya's an alien? Or, as I suspect, that it's nothing to do with The X Files and is just amusing to see the guy grinning like a vacant wombat?

There are so many reasons to go to the cinema this week. This ain't one of them.

Die-hard fan or regular cinemagoer, there's no covering up the fact that The X Files is a titanic let-down. Wheel out the aliens next time, please.



Your comments

Cory Holland

I loved this movie and I must respectfully disagree with Robbie Collin's remarks. I'm borrowing some text for my comment, because this says it better than I can.

"What I appreciated about "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" was that it involved actual questions of morality, just as "The Dark Knight" does. It's not simply about good and evil but about choices. Come to think of it, Scully's dying child may be connected to the plot in another way, since it poses the question: Are any means justified to keep a dying person alive?

The movie lacks a single explosion. It has firearms, but nobody is shot. The special effects would have been possible in the era of "Frankenstein." Lots of stunt people were used. I had the sensation of looking at real people in real spaces, not motion-capture in CGI spaces. There was a tangible quality to the film that made the suspense more effective because it involved the physical world.

The movie is insidious. It involves evil on not one level but two. The evildoers, it must be said, are singularly inept; they receive bills for medical supplies under their own names, and surely there must be more efficient ways to abduct victims and purchase animal tranquilizers. But what they're up to is so creepy, and the snow-covered Virginia landscapes so haunting, and the wrong-headedness of Scully so frustrating, and the FBI bureaucracy so stupid, and Mulder so brave, that the movie works like thrillers used to work, before they were required to contain villains the size of buildings."

If you liked the show, you'll like the movie. If you didn't get into the show, you'll still get a kick out of this movie if you enjoy gritty, scary, crime genera movies.


Hmm. interesting review and followup comment. Being as how the movies are so expensive these days, i'm guessing this will just be ok and so ill put it in the rental category. theres just too much good stuff to see.....

Quite nicely written actually, i like it. :)

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