Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
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Callum Keith Rennie, Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner, Mitch Pileggi, Adam Godley, Carrie Ruscheinsky, Spencer Maybee, Steve Stafford, Denis Krasnogolov, Marci T. House
|Director||Chris Carter—“The X-Files”|
|Distributor||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation|
“To find the truth, you must believe.”
Ten years after “The X-Files: Fight the Future” hit movie theaters, and six years after the television show ended its run (which Entertainment Weekly recently ranked as the fourth best show over the last twenty-five years), creator/director/co-writer Chris Carter returns his hit show to the big screen with “The X-Files: I Want To Believe.” The question about the movie this time around is basically the same as when the first movie came out: Can the film satisfy hardcore X-Philes, while at the same time appeal to those not familiar with the show?
As the movie opens, FBI agents are thoroughly searching a snow covered field for a body, possibly of a fellow agent who went missing a few days earlier. They are following Father Joe (Billy Connolly), a white-haired, former priest/convicted pedophile who claims to have had a psychic vision of where the body is located. When they begin to dig where the priest directs them, they make a grisly discover that proves the FBI agent may still be alive, and that the priest may possess an actual gift of seeing the unseen.
The agent in charge of the investigation (Amanda Peet) isn't experienced in dealing with things “otherwordly,” so she contacts former agent Scully to locate the only agent she knows who might be able to handle the case, Fox Mulder, who is living incognito far away from the lights of Washington D.C. Mulder is reluctant to help, but Scully prods him until he agrees. He does have one condition though, and that is that Scully joins him on the case.
It isn't an easy case for anyone, especially for Scully who loathes the priest for what he did in the past, and believes his psychic visions are a fraud. She is also distracted by a situation that has developed at the hospital where she now works as a respected surgeon. Father Joe can sense her trepidation and gives her a warning that Scully is none to open to receiving. When another girl goes missing, the search intensifies, and each person must confront their own inner struggles while trying to save those taken captive before the unthinkable is done to them.
Just the fact that Mulder and Scully are back will likely draw many to the theaters over the next few weeks, but is it quality entertainment for Christian audiences? The language in the film is fairly tame. There are a few uses a mild profanities, as well as a couple uses of the Lord's name in vain. Sexual content is minimal as well; one innuendo is heard, but may not be caught by many people. Father Joe is said to have molested 37 young boys, and Scully makes a crude comment about it when first meeting him. It is brought up a few times throughout the film, and one of his victims is said to have gone on to become married in a civil union to another man. Catholic priests, in general, are not really looked well upon in the film, as in another scene where a young boy in Scully's hospital mentions to her how he feels uncomfortable with the way a priest is looking at him.
Some Christians may be bothered by the political tone this movie takes on, and one scene in particular has the camera panning down the walls of the FBI office, and stops on a photo of President Bush. The sound effect that accompanies this is frankly ridiculous, and feels quite forced, taking you briefly out of the movie completely, whether you like President Bush or not. The main drawback, though, will likely be the violence. We see people getting clawed with garden utensils, severed body parts, kidnappings, bizarre surgeries, eyes dripping blood, and a gruesome offscreen death by falling onto a sharp object. I wouldn't recommend this film be seen by children or younger teenagers; its adult themes and content will likely not appeal that much to them anyway. The film carries a fairly ominous tone throughout, so parents should seriously consider whether taking their children to this movie.
“The X-Files: I Want to Believe” also contains a surprising amount of spiritual content. God is mentioned more in this film than I remember seeing in any of the episodes, and each character seems to be experiencing their own inner struggles with “believing,” not in aliens, but believing in God and His way. Scully bears her soul to Mulder in one scene, saying she can't sleep because she is too busy cursing God for allowing a young patient of hers to have been born in to the world with a seemingly incurable disease. Father Joe is extremely repentant of the horrible acts he committed, and prays vigorously for God's forgiveness, not sure he will ever receive it; Scully doesn't think he deserves it anyway. Mulder must determine whether Father Joe is being used by God to lead him to the victims, or if he is simply a gifted con-artist.
For a show that boasted the famous line “Trust no one,” the movie makes the concept of trust vital to each character's survival. The idea of God sending psychic visions to a priest as a way to vindicate him for sins he committed doesn't exactly seem scriptural, but the film goes with it, nonetheless. As Christians, we know that Christ died for the sins of the world, and a repentant Father Joe would have received forgiveness from God without needing to prove himself, or earn it in any way.
This may or may not sound interesting to you. I have tried to keep the basic story fairly vague as to not reveal certain twists and turns of the plot. I must say, though, that after waiting ten years for a new movie, I was rather disappointed with the result. As a stand alone film though, it isn't full of details only the serious fan would know, so it could appeal to a broader audience. Frankly, you could pick from a hat full of old episode ideas, and I'd guess 90% of the time you'd come up with a story far more interesting than this one. There is very little urgency to what goes on in this film, and I responded to the film's lack of urgency by, well, not responding to the film at all.
It's great to see Mulder and Scully back together, and David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson could take thirty years off and still have the chemistry. But the rest of the cast seems completely out of place. Amanda Peet and the rapper Xzibit (as another FBI agent) are about as believable in their roles as Kermit and Miss Piggy would have been. Billy Connolly is fine with what he has to work with, but Father Joe just simply isn't all that interesting of a character, and generates little feeling from the viewer one way or another.
During the movie, I kept thinking how if this film's story had been moved to a different, non X-File movie, and had starred anybody else instead of Mulder and Scully, I would have been bored senseless. I fidgeted watching this movie, and looked at my watch often, wishing it would end. I, personally, wanted to believe that ten years was time enough to craft an ingenious film for some of the most beloved characters in recent history, but my trust seems to have been sorely misplaced.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor
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