That hollow, echoey feeling of Is this all there is? is in fact just about all that remains after this inexcusably dull and completely unnecessary retread of a film has faded from the screen. The purpose behind the Fight the Future film was simple to divine: The series was near the height of its popularity and the alien invasion storyline could better be explored with the increased running time and expanded special effects budget of a major studio film. Whatever that film's failings, it made sense, just as David Lynch's Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me did in that it wrapped up some loose storylines and gave hungry fans a rewarding big-screen dessert. But the storyline behind I Want to Believe is so deadly pedestrian that it's not only shocking that David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, and creator Chris Carter would have bothered trekking back up to British Columbia to film it, but that 20th Century Fox would make so much noise about keeping all the plot details a closely kept secret.
In I Want to Believe, Anderson's Dana Scully is long gone from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, unhappily plying her trade as a doctor at a Catholic-run hospital whose bean-counting administration sorely tests the last tattered shreds of her once-staunch faith. Still the rational foil for Duchovny's Fox Mulder -- the sardonically wide-eyed conspiracist whose deadpan mutterings launched a million fangirl crushes -- Scully is recruited by their old employers at the FBI to track Mulder down. An agent has gone missing and a spooky old moth-eaten priest claiming to be a psychic (Billy Connolly) is the only potential link to find her. Since apparently the FBI has never dealt with wannabe visionaries afflicted with a delusional in their extrasensory abilities, Mulder must be brought back into the fold to shine his flashlight into the unknown.
In a sad effort to introduce yet another of the series' distracting love-triangle complications -- whereby Mulder is chased by some dark-eyed sylph while Scully looks on in disapproval -- the FBI's manhunt is headed up by an ice-hued Amanda Peet, employed simply to make eyes at Mulder like a schoolgirl, awed at his X-Files past. Pimp My Ride rapper Alvin "Xzibit" Joiner somehow plays Peet's partner as infinitely more believable, a hierarchical stiff in a suit, sick of following a psychic through the snow and quite ready to be done with these alien-hunting has-beens, just as viewers are likely to be after about 20 minutes.
The mystery that Carter and co-writer Frank Spotnitz came up with to prod the listless plot along can't of course be explained here, so as not to ruin the un-surprise, but what can be said is that it's not only barely enough to hang an entire film on, it would barely sustain a mediocre, hour-long episode of the series. Of more interest to Carter and Spotnitz appears to be exploring the somewhat matured relationship between Scully and Mulder and examining the nature of faith, whether it's Scully's belief in God and her medical oath or Mulder's devotion to figuring out why things go bump in the night. The script dutifully trots out one leaden confrontation after another as the two characters stagger through their spiritual dilemmas in only the most blundering and obvious manner, saying things like, "This stubbornness of yours, it's why I fell in love with you." Meanwhile, the "mystery" of the missing agent and the psychic priest limps along, well after it becomes clear that the only mystery worth answering here is: Why did they bother?
Let's pimp this UFO with some phat rims!
Run time: 104 mins
In Theaters: Friday 25th July 2008
Box Office USA: $20.8M
Box Office Worldwide: $68.4M
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Production compaines: 20th Century Fox
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 32%
Fresh: 51 Rotten: 110
IMDB: 5.9 / 10
Director: Chris Carter
Producer: Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz, Brent O'Connor
Screenwriter: Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz
Starring: David Duchovny as Fox Mulder, Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully, Amanda Peet as ASAC Dakota Whitney, Billy Connolly as Father Joseph Crissman, Xzibit as Agent Mosley Drummy, Mitch Pileggi as Walter Skinner, Callum Keith Rennie as Janke Dacyshyn (2nd Abductor), Adam Godley as Father Ybarra, Alex Diakun as Gaunt Man, Nicki Aycox as Cheryl Cunningham (2nd Victim), Fagin Woodcock as Franz Tomczeszyn (1st Abductor), Marco Niccoli as Christian Fearon, Carrie Ruscheinsky as Margaret Fearon, Spencer Maybee as Blair Fearon, Veronika Hadrava as Female Assistant, Denis Krasnogolov as Male Assistant, Patrick Keating as Slight Man, Roger Horchow as Elderly Gent, Stephen E. Miller as Feed Store Proprietor, Xantha Radley as Monica Bannan, Lorena Gale as On Screen Doctor, Donavon Stinson as Suited Man, Dion Johnstone as 1st Cop, Sarah-Jane Redmond as Special Agent in Charge, Christina D'Alimonte as Doctor's Colleague, Vanesa Tomasino as Hallway Agent, Luvia Petersen as O.R. Nurse, Babs Chula as Surgeon, Marci T. House as Sheriff, Joseph Patrick Finn as Whispering Priest, Beth Siegler as Anesthesiologist, Stacee Copeland as Doctor, Tom Charron as Sheriff Horton, Brent O'Connor as Tow Truck Driver, Dave Cote as D-Man, Chris Carter as Man sitting in hospital hallway, Paul Mitton as FBI Agent, Vanessa Morley as Female Hallway Agent, Michael Stevens as Board Room Doctor