MOVIE REVIEW- Reunion flop: ‘X' makes the z-list
If you've ever been disappointed seeing one of your favorite bands in a "once more for the money" reunion tour, you have an idea of what to expect from The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Twenty-first century Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are shadows of their former selves but no longer working in shadowy places.A female agent has disappeared, and a priest, Father Joseph Crissman (Billy Connolly), has come forward claiming psychic knowledge of the case gained through "visions." He leads the FBI to a severed limb buried in the snow. (Set in West Virginia but filmed in British Columbia, the movie looks cold enough to save a fortune on air conditioning.)
Once Mulder and Scully arrive on the scene, they learn Father Joe is a "convicted pedophile" who "buggered 37 altar boys" and now lives in a dorm with other sex offenders. "Just avoid the activities room," Mulder cracks in one of his few funny lines. Scully is so sickened by the priest that she begs Mulder to drop the case she got him into, but he's hooked.
Another young woman disappears, and more body parts turn up. It soon becomes apparent– but if you're worried about spoilers, jump to the next paragraph– that the story is about trafficking in human organs. That the men behind it were wed in Massachusetts won't do much to promote gay marriage, but the movie displays enough ambivalence about stem cell research to avoid offending partisans on either side of that issue.
The current incarnation of the FBI is represented by Alvin "Xzibit" Joiner as Agent Mosley Drummy, who doesn't get along with anyone, and Amanda Peet as Special Agent in Charge Dakota Whitney, who doesn't act like she's in charge of anything and whose primary function seems to be making Scully jealous by talking to Mulder.
Callum Keith Rennie is one of the villains, Eastern Europeans all. That their dialogue isn't subtitled is a blessing, assuming it's on the same level of arcanery and banality as that of the English-speakers.
Despite a number of cliffhangers and action scenes, there's surprisingly little excitement in I Want to Believe. References to the old days are tossed in for the loyal fans as Scully and Mulder link each other's current obsessions to the past, and a familiar face turns in an 11th-hour cameo.
The X-Files: I Want to Believe was screened for critics very close to opening. It could have been, as the studio said, to preserve the secrecy of the plot, but historical precedent overwhelmingly favors the theory that they didn't want word getting out about how bad it is. The movie itself bears that out.
If the first X-Files movie got you addicted to the TV series, the second one will serve as your 12-Step program. It can turn you from an "X" fan to an ex-fan in 104 minutes or less. There are no aliens involved in the plot, but you may be wishing for some to show up in the theater, abduct you, and transport you to another movie.
Yes, the reunion is a bust. Duchovny, Anderson and writer-director-creator Chris Carter no longer make beautiful music together.
Scully, fighting a hospital administrator who wants to send her patient to a hospice, is moved when Father Joe tells her, "Don't give up."
Memo to Chris Carter: Give up.