I'll admit it - I was an "X-Phile." I never missed a Sunday night episode with my friends and fellow fans. As frustrating and enigmatic as the series was, we faithfully gathered on Sunday evenings for our weekly dose of Scully and Mulder and whatever madness they happened to be caught up in that week. The first "X-Files" movie, Fight the Future was highly anticipated, and while it did much to advance the show's complicated alien/government conspiracy plot, it served mostly as a primer for the non-initiated. It was also loaded with action and intrigue, as was the series.
Now, six years after the show went off the air, Mulder and Scully return in I Want to Believe (a phrase not unknown to fans) to help a new pair of FBI agents in their investigation into the apparent abduction of another agent in the middle of the night. Aided by a psychic (and pedophillic) ex-priest, they must race against time to find the missing agent before she is killed. Along the way, they discover a plethora of body parts, all sharing the same rare blood type and all bearing traces of animal tranquilizers.
Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is now working at a Catholic hospital, seemingly obsessed with helping a boy who has an "incurable" disease. When Special Agent Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet) and her partner, Agent Mosley Drummy (rapper Xzbit) approach Scully in an effort to find former agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovney), Scully contacts him and encourages him to end his isolation and help find the missing agent (is it me, or does Chris Carter have a penchant for creating some of the most unlikely character names ever?). The priest, played by Billy Connolly (Fido) leads the FBI to a severed arm buried in the snow, and then to a whole collection of body parts in the West Virginia ice (with the plains of Vancouver standing in for a wintery WV). Despite recruiting Mulder to help with the investigation, Scully is hardly willing to once again "look into the darkness" and resists Mulder's attempts at teaming up for one more investigation. "This isn't my life, anymore," she repeatedly tells him.
The end result is more like one of the series' sillier episodes, involving Russian body part transplantation experiments, than the great alien conspiracy that series creator Chris Carter employed to great effect on TV. None of the shows' other great characters (Cigarette Smoking Man; Deep Throat; The Well-Manicured Man) makes an appearance and Mulder and Scully's boss Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) appears only briefly at the end. Ultimately a let-down for the series' fans, I Want to Believe isn't a bad movie; it just isn't a very good one. And certainly not worthy of what the fans have so long waited for. ** (Two Stars)