The X-Files: "Fight the Future" and "I Want to Believe" - Blu-ray
Fight the Future: * * *
I Want to Believe: * * * 1/2
The X-Files is one of my favorite TV shows. It's true that when it went off the air in 2001, it had already lost much of what had made it unique. But until around season 7 or so, it had some of the best writing on television.
"Fight the Future" was released in 1998, between seasons 5 and 6, and the story fit neatly into the conspiracy mythology of the show. I remember when I saw the movie in the theater, I thought it would have been a good ending to show. After all, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) finally uncovers the conspiracy he's been chasing for five seasons. It seemed like there was nowhere else to go with the series (which, sadly, ended up being the case). In time, Duchovny would leave the show entirely, only to come back to hook up with Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) on the last show. The X-Files had descended into soap opera territory.
So, I was a little worried when, in the new X-Files movie, "I Want to Believe," Mulder and Scully are still together as a couple, just as they were in that final episode. But somehow the passage of time has made their relationship more plausible. They've remained a couple because Mulder isn't investigating X-Files anymore. He's just a normal guy, who stays at home while Scully is out working as a surgeon in a children's hospital. But then the FBI comes knocking at his door...
Someone has abducted an FBI agent, and a psychic priest named Father Joe (Billy Connolly), who happens to be a pedophile, is helping the authorities. One FBI agent (Amanda Peet) wants to bring Mulder back to help assess whether the psychic priest is for real. He reluctantly comes back.
Once Mulder is back working with the FBI, he's quickly pulled into the dark world of killers and their victims -- a place he's pretty comfortable. He wants to believe that Father Joe is telling the truth, that he is a small light shining in this darkness. At one point, Scully says, "I don't want the darkness back in my house," which means she doesn't think she can be with Mulder if he's going to be out in the crazy, evil world they both walked away from.
And the world that Mulder has walked back into is indeed crazy and evil. Without giving away too much, let's just say this story turns Frankenstein upside down (or inside out). And unlike many movies today, "I Want to Believe" takes its time weaving together many threads that seem disconnected.
In the end, what kept me thinking of this film days after I'd seen it were the characters. Watching Dana Scully wrestle with the decision to put a child patient through a painful, experimental procedure. Watching Mulder's gift for pursuing evil come back after lying dormant for so long. Watching Father Joe's anguish when he finds out why he's seeing visions.
This is great filmmaking. I can only hope they bring back these characters again in another X-Files movie or new TV show.