Monday, 4 August 2008

Film Review: The X-Files - I Want To Believe

There are two reasons why The X-Files will never be remembered as the groundbreaking television series that it was:

1 – It went on for five years too long.
2 – Both X-Files movies have been absolutely fucking diabolical.

That said, 1998’s Fight The Future is a work of genius compared to this ill-judged abomination.

We hook up with Mulder and Scully six years after the last X-Files episode, which ended, let us not forget, with the pair on the run from the government after Mulder had been wrongly tried for treason.

Overlooking that minor detail, Scully is now a paediatric physician and Mulder is a hermit who still enjoys sticking his pencils to the ceiling and scoffing sunflower seeds. Much as he was in the TV show, then, but now sporting the worst beard imaginable.

A local FBI agent has gone missing and the only clues are coming from the addled, apparently psychic mind of paedophile priest Father Joe (Billy Connelly). Agents Dakota Whitney, played by the smokin’ hot Amanda Peet, and Mosley Drummy, played by Xzibit (yes, Xzibit), are set up as the 2008 class of X-Files sleuths.

The unlikely pair call upon Mulder for help because he has experience dealing with psychics. Peet actually name-checks a few psychics Mulder worked with in the show like Clyde Bruckman and Luther Lee Boggs, presumably to remind us of the days when The X-Files was actually good. Given a light prod about his missing sister – who, the writers have clearly forgotten, is actually dead – Mulder agrees to help, with Scully, of course, dutifully in tow.

As it turns out, some pesky Russians (what’s with Russians becoming the de facto baddies in this summer’s Hollywood releases? Is it 1985 all over again?) are harvesting body parts for some Frankenstein-esque experiments that are never fully explained.

And, well, that’s about it really.

No UFOs. No aliens. No government conspiracy. No monster. The only thing vaguely supernatural is Billy Connelly’s psychic paedophile priest. It doesn’t feel like The X-Files at all.

At its best the show was thrilling, spooky and often terrifying, these qualities are entirely absent from this deathly boring film. It’s a sub-par episode stretched out to fill the interminable 100 minute running time.

Duchovny and Anderson do their best – they still possess an undeniable on-screen chemistry – but they can’t redeem this worthless film. Peet and X to the Z are even worse than the Robert Patrick/Annabeth Gish pairing that brought the curtain down on the show. But they’ve both been so painfully miscast that it’s easy to have sympathy for them.

The blame for this slow, leaden-footed build to nothingness must lie with writer/director/producer/creator Chris Carter. Releasing such a rotten film upon a fanbase that remains obsessive is an ugly manipulation of people who clearly care more about his work than he does. By extending the TV series two seasons past its natural conclusion, Carter has form at taking the piss out of his fanbase, but even during its season nine nadir, the show was never this bad.

After a blazing techno version of the X-Files theme and a quick burst of UNKLE’s Broken, there’s a weird post-credits scene with Mulder rowing a small boat while Scully poses in a black bikini. They look up and wave as the screen fades to black.

Are they saying goodbye?

If this is the best the creators can come up with, let’s hope so.

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