The X-Files: I Want to Believe (PG-13)
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This is the second feature film based on the TV series The X-Files. The first movie, Fight the Future, came out in 1998, between the fifth and sixth seasons of the show. The show itself lasted nine seasons, ending in 2002. This movie came out in 2008, but I didn't see it until 2015. (In recent weeks, there's been talk of a limited TV revival of the series, sometime in the not too distant future, so I thought it was a good time for me to finally watch the movie.) As is the case with my review of the original series, I'm categorizing the second movie as "paranormal," unlike the first movie, which I listed under "science fiction." Even so, I feel like this movie only barely qualifies as paranormal; of course it has the show's usual mix of FBI procedural and noir, with a bit of a thriller vibe. (It's more "monster of the week"- in this case, human monsters rather than literal ones- unlike the first movie, which was more about the show's mythology.) Anyway, I didn't like it as much as I might have hoped. In fact it's hard for me to say whether I would have liked it at all, if I weren't already a fan of the characters. But I do feel like I would have possibly liked it a bit more if I'd seen it closer to the release date.
Scully is now working as a doctor in a Catholic hospital; throughout the movie, we see her emotional investment with a patient of hers, a young boy who has a terminal disease that is considered untreatable. However, Scully is not willing to give up on him, despite pressure from her superior, a priest who I guess is the hospital's chief of staff, or whatever. This whole storyline kind of plays into the whole question of faith vs. science, with which Scully struggled in the series. The same struggle is mirrored in an investigation she and Mulder will get involved with, sort of. I dunno, it all seemed a bit unclear to me, and I thought it could have been better handled, from a storytelling perspective. Also, Scully eventually considers a "radical procedure" involving stem cells, which I felt would have been a more timely and compelling plotline if the movie had come out a lot sooner after the end of the series, as was originally planned.
Anyway... there's a Special Agent at the FBI, Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet), who wants Scully to contact Mulder, whose expertise she wants to help with a case she's investigating (along with Special Agent Mosley Drummy, who is a skeptic). Mulder has been in hiding since the end of the series, and he's reluctant to get involved with this new case, but he finally agrees... and it's not long before Scully starts wishing she'd never passed along the request. Anyway, the reason Agent Whitney wanted Mulder's help was because there was a man claiming to be having psychic visions of the abduction of a woman... who just happened to be a missing FBI agent named Monica Bannan, for whom Whitney and Drummy were searching. Further complicating things, this psychic, Joseph Fitzpatrick "Father Joe" Crissman (Billy Connolly), is a former priest who had been convicted of numerous counts of child molestation. During the course of the investigation, another woman gets abducted, and Father Joe's visions lead Mulder and the FBI to recover countless body parts from lots of victims. Throughout all of this, Scully is skeptical of Father Joe's psychic abilities, believing he may be an accomplice in the abductions.
Well, I won't reveal how the investigation turns out. I'll just say the movie wasn't bad, but I thought it was kind of boring. It's always nice to see Mulder and Scully, but the movie didn't really have the same magic as the series. It certainly had a similar strangeness and darkness, but for the most part I thought it wasn't quite strange or dark enough. In a way, it was kind of... mundane, I guess. (But hey, there's one plot element that's left unresolved, which is frustrating in a way that feels pretty familiar....)