SOME SMALL (THOUGH NOT EXTREMELY IMPORTANT) DETAILS ARE DISCUSSED.
As a gawky teenager, with few friends and awful braces, there was little hope for me to find anything to even talk about in 8th grade. Then the adventures of Mulder and Scully appeared on Friday nights — when I was home. Alone. In the middle of nowhere. I lived a half-an-hour away from town and I couldn’t drive yet anyway. So I settled in for an evening of Due South and X-Files. (By the way, Due South was written and produced by Paul Haggis, who went on to write/adapt such films as Million Dollar Baby, Crash, Flags of Our Fathers, and Casino Royale. I had the nose even then…)
My overactive imagination and photographic memory finally afforded me a chance to speak to the cool kids who also watched this show. It wasn’t much, but it was something. I don’t pretend that television is all-important, but it can give you a helping-hand from time to time.
I watched, and re-watched, regularly until Mulder left. I tried to continue but it wasn’t the same without him. I can’t say I blame Duchovny, really. See, there are two kinds of episodes: the monster/ghoulie/phenomena of the week and the government conspiracy updates. Early seasons kept the gov’t stuff to a minimum, inserting it for occasional mysterious overtone. It mainly focused on these to unlikely heroes checking into weird stuff. As time went on, that balance was destabilized and it all became about secret organizations, double-crosses, and government cover-ups (as if this government could ever be so streamlined and efficient).
So I was glad to see a trailer that looked as though the team had taken a more episodic approach – some mystery that warranted a bit more than TV’s 42 minutes to uncover.
X-Files: I Want to Believe is along those lines. It follows the case of a missing agent, whose last few moments were seen by a psychic with an unsavory past. Mulder, who is essentially a recluse, and Scully, now a prominent surgeon, are called in by the special-agent-in-charge (Amanda Peet) to assist, due to their experience dealing with psychics. Another woman goes missing, under similar circumstances and the two find themselves investigating alongside the FBI — and still battling their own demons (Always in the snow…).
Although somewhat limp, there was an attempt to weave themes across the simultaneous story lines. Scully is trying reconcile her beliefs along with her desire to push science to the limits. And how does her willingness to use radical, experimental treatments while the villains they are after do a cruder version of the same? Does Mulder’s determination to “believe” become a detriment to finding the truth? Can a man with a sketchy past still be a harbinger of truth?
Unfortunately this promising episodic style film leaves itself behind in the last few minutes with the “reveal.” Their attempt to create an “I didn’t see that one coming” moment backfires — all the way back to dreadful 1950s drive-in movies now featured on MST3K. They should have gone back to the modest budget, high-creativity, somewhat gritty early X-Files for inspiration. Maybe they did, and they are too far beyond where they started to go back.