[Madd_hadder reviews the X-Files movie, which I have not seen. Spoilers.].
Mulder and Scully are back! The FBI has a case that was brought to them on a cold call, by a supposedly psychic priest (Billy Connelly), but the two agents in charge (Amanda Peet and Xzibit(?)) are not sure they believe he is really a psychic. Who you gonna call? Fox Mulder! Mulder has been laying low, hiding from the FBI for the last few years after he broke out of a military prison where he was to be hanged. Agent Xzibit asks Scully, now a doctor in a Catholic hospital, to track down Mulder because an FBI agent has been abducted and they need his help. The Priest has more psychic visions, but no one trust him because he is noted pedophile, having molested 30 young boys during his priesting. Mulder believes, or at least he wants to believe, that the visions are true. In these visions the father is seeing and hearing dogs, but not much else, except he is able to lead the FBI to all kinds of body parts. When a second girl gets abducted, Mulder gets fully behind the case, but Scully will not commit. Scully refuses to follow Mulder back into the darkness, but Mulder proclaims his whole life is about the darkness. When they stumble onto the body parts and test them for drugs, Mulder believes they are looking for an organ thieving business, which of course, is not terribly X-files like. In a side plot, focused on Scully, she is the doctor for a child who has an incurable disease, except she wants to try some risky stem cell surgery. It doesn't seem like much of a story, but the brilliance of Dana Scully is the way she is always trying to balance science and religious faith and this story line provides the perfect opportunity for it.
There is a giant part of me that believes I have to view this movie as if The X-Files did not exist. I want to review this specifically as a movie. In that regard, I believe it mostly succeeds. The opening scene is creepy and does an excellent job of setting the mood and the rest of the movie follows suit. There is a nice balance between the darkness and the light hearted Mulder and Scully banter, but in the end, as an X-Files movie, I have to ask "why?" If you are going to revive a franchise that died a very slow and painful death in 2002, you had better make sure the product you bring back something worth watching. The X-files: I want to believe, is worth watching as a movie, but as an X-Files movie it feels like an average stand alone episode. That being said, it was a blast to see my two favorite FBI agents back in action.
David Duchovney finds Mulder perfectly, even after letting him go 6 years ago. He is funny, charming, and earnest and, he still knows how to make us believe in him and his beliefs. Gillian Anderson kind of steals the show, though. She is heartbreaking, kind, and subtle in her choices and watching the two of them banter for the first half and argue through the second half does have a sense of classic X-Files to it. The scene they share in the hospital when Scully confesses she cannot follow him is really the crux of the movie. The plot takes a back seat to watching these characters re-evaluate their relationships and their lives. Mulder still eats sun flower seeds, is still obsessed with the paranormal and his ceiling is still riddled with pencils, but he is desperately in love with Scully. Dana is still whip smart and resistant to believing in the paranormal, but her love for Mulder shines through easily. Even in a lesser X-Files episode they are worth watching and that is no different here. It helps that Chris Carter crafts pretty good dialog that feels totally true to the two characters. Even as Mulder and Scully try to find a way to live with each other after the series, they cannot help but continue to question everything all of the time. It is obvious Carter was not ready to let these two iconic TV figures go.
When the plot does get back on track during the third act, we get some cool, creepy and scary stuff, all helped by Mark Snow's haunting score. The man has not lost his touch for creating the perfect mood with music. The X-Files theme is used only 3 or 4 times that I remember in the actual movie, but it is butchered in some awful techno version in the credits. Fans of the show will undoubtedly get a kick out of seeing Skinner again as well, even if just in the cameo role he was relegated to early in the series. However, while the plot is mildly X-Files like, I was left wanting more. I needed a better reason to see Mulder on screen again. I needed a better reason to watch Scully and Mulder share a bed together. I know Carter wanted to do a stand alone supernatural thriller, but a psychic child molesting priest? Why not tackle something like Big Foot even. Or perhaps something alien that did not have to do with the mythology. I have to believe The X-Files mythos can continue on, but I am not sure this was the right venue in which to bring it back.
I was entertained; I laughed and cheered silently and even uttered an audible "oh shit" during the moment that shocked me, so I cannot be too mad at Chris Carter. He made a pretty good thriller featuring the characters of the X-Files, just not a good X-Files thriller. Sadly, the opening weekend box office leaves little chance we will see a third movie and after limping across the finish line once before, this solid, if unremarkable, movie could be the final nail in the coffin of The X-Files.