The X-Files: I Want to Believe – A Review

Posted on July 25, 2008. Filed under: Reviews |

 

 

 

 

The X-Files:  I Want to Believe – A Review

Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz join forces again in the newest iteration of the X-Files universe (The X-Files:  I Want to Believe) as David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprise their roles as Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.  My greatest fear walking into this movie was that it was merely going to be a two hour episode where Mulder can say “shit” and get away with it.  Also, I went in to the movie knowing absolutely nothing about the storyline and wondering how much this film would delve into the X-Files mythos.  What I ended up walking out with was a mixed bag.

I’m not sure exactly how much time is supposed to have elapsed from the end of the last season to the start of this movie but I got the distinct impression that it was years.  As we begin to get reintegrated into the world of the X-Files we find Dana Scully living a normal life, working as a doctor in a hospital.  One day she is approached by an FBI agent (Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner) asking for the whereabouts of Fox Mulder.  The FBI puts a deal on the table forgiving all of Mulder’s past transgressions and dropping the charges against him if he would only assist in investigating a case of a missing special agent.  Scully takes the offer to Fox and convinces him to trust the feds in an attempt to get him out of his seclusion.

“I’m done chasing monsters in the dark”

The reason the FBI is interested in bringing back the team of Mulder and Scully is due to the fact that an ex-priest named Joseph Crissman (Billy Connolly) is claiming that he is receiving visions from God in regards to the case.  Upon meeting Crissman we discover that he is also a convicted pedophile setting the stage for the inevitable doubts to be cast in his direction.  After all, how could a disgraced priest who had sex with “37 altar boys” possibly receive forgiveness, let alone visions, from God?  From the word “go” we have to wrestle with the fact that there are times that we may not like the people that God forgives.

As the crimes continue to spread and more people get hurt, the legitimacy of Crissman’s visions increasingly become questioned and scrutinized.  Fox Mulder wants to believe that the disgraced priest is truly having visions, that the suspicions of his complicity in these crimes are false and in the end his belief will be rewarded.  As the case progresses, belief and faith are stretched to the breaking point and Sully and Mulder’s relationship begins to fall apart (yes, the legendary chemistry is still there and played out well). 

Crissman:  “So you believe in these sorts of things?”

Mulder:  “Let’s just say I want to believe.”

 

Each of them is caught in a situation where they must wrestle with their doubts as their faith or belief in something is called into question.   For example, Scully is confronted with a decision which her hospital would find unethical and the religious authorities in the administration are dogging her every step.  She also has a serious problem with a pedophile receiving help from “God”.  As the movie unfolds we are shown the evil of faith and science and good of faith and science. 

This makes for an interesting contrast.  What seems like polar opposites actually have a lot in common.  Faith and religious belief have been used arrogantly and even violently, but it has also been used to create love and peace.  Similarly science has brought horrors and unleashed disasters, but without science much that improves our quality of life wouldn’t exist.  The problem that Dana Scully seems to have is the same thing that most people have.  It’s not that she dislikes God or doesn’t want to believe in a higher being, she has a problem with God’s representatives and what they do.  But that begs the question, does the lack of tact or compassion in some people who call themselves followers of God necessarily imply that God must not exist, or at the very least, share the worst attributes of the worst of his so-called disciples?

Crissman to Scully:  “You’re a woman of faith.  Not the same faith as your husband.”

We come to find out that if anything, these things that we are confronted with can be used as a tool to strengthen rather than destroy our faith.  These obstacles aren’t insurmountable, they can be overcome.  It’s not easy; we have thousands of years of people trying to live spiritual lives that can attest to that.  But the pay off in the end is being more grounded in what you believe in, you are more solid for having weathered the storm.  It doesn’t mean that doubts won’t rear their heads again, they will.  It doesn’t mean that you’ll live a life filled with certainty about everything, you won’t.  What it does mean is that you have grown.  You have become more fully human. 

To wrap this up, for as average as I thought this movie was, I’m a little confounded by how much it has actually caused me to think.  This has actually raised the bar for the movie a bit for me.  Now that I have had time to sit and process it all I have come to conclude that while I may not have adored the execution of the film, it was better than I anticipated.  Was it a two hour long episode?  Yes.  Did it delve into the long-winded X-Files mythos?  Not really.  But it did cause me to think and that is what art is supposed to do. 

 

*As a post script, I really enjoyed the Where’s Waldo-like game of “Find the Mis En Place”.  As Scully and Mulder were discussing something, Dana was standing off to the side a bit while the hospital’s name (Our Lady of Sorrows) took center frame.  Also before something major happened to Mulder there is a man in the hospital sitting in the foreground holding an urn.  I think I may have even seen the word “Champ” scribbled on a basketball sitting on Mulder’s desk after he made a major breakthrough.  Let me know if you’re able to see anything else.

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