The Snow's the Thing
Severed body parts, a defrocked Catholic priest -- and lots of snow -- offer up clues to the chilling atmospheric mystery presented in The X-Files: I Want To Believe. Former FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are drawn into the case after a current agent goes missing and “Father Joe” claims he has visions relating to what happened to the woman. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson resurrect their beloved TV characters here, and Billy Connolly steps in as the self-proclaimed psychic.
Are Father Joe’s visions real? If not, how is he involved in the agent’s disappearance? While all three actors deliver riveting performances, the disappointing story fails to provide them with quality material to match their considerable talents. But, as a fan of The X-Files television series, I applaud director/co-writer Chris Carter’s desire to bring us up to date on what’s going on now with Mulder (Duchovny) and Scully (Anderson).
Duchovny still projects Mulder’s deep connection with all things paranormal, and Anderson endows Scully with even more skepticism here. Unfortunately, I Want To Believe doesn’t allow this intriguing couple enough time on camera together to satisfy me. Although they share a few tender moments, most of the time they’re bickering over science vs. faith or what the other one should -- or should not -- be doing.
At the beginning of the film, Scully agrees to contact the reclusive Mulder to help with the FBI’s case, then nags him constantly to back away from “the dark side.” Mulder tries to persuade Scully to help him, but she faces problems of her own as a surgeon trying to save a young patient, for the lad will die unless his parents and hospital authorities agree to a painful experimental procedure she feels might cure him. So no matter how much we want to watch our heroes rely on each other while solving this mystery, they deal mostly with separate aspects of the plot -- which, frankly, frustrated me more than a little.
Kudos, however, to cinematographer Bill Roe (Titanic) for his artistry, especially in scenes that make us feel we’re tramping over the snow and freezing right along with FBI agents as they follow the wild-looking psychic played brilliantly by Connolly. Although it was about 100 degrees outside during the screening I attended, I wanted to bundle up in warmer clothes while sitting through those great snowy sequences.
Fans of The X-Files need to be warned about the lack of emphasis on aliens and conspiracy theories in this outing. I Want To Believe comes across as a mystery/thriller -- with SAW-like overtones -- instead of the absorbing sci-fi experience we expect from Carter and company. It’s a shame to see Russian villains, gay marriage, organ transplants and redemption for pedophiles vie for attention in a movie that shortchanges its lead actors and target audience.
(Released by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and rated “PG-13” for violent and disturbing content and thematic material.)