The X Files: I Want to Believe

To be perfectly clear, the new X-Files movie didn’t have very much to offer a newcomer to the series. It avoided the pitfall of delving into the series’ long-winded mythology that, on TV, ultimately failed to deliver on any significant portion of its promise, instead opting for the much stronger “Monster of the Week” oeuvre that popularized the show in the first place. This episode (or movie, if you will) pits Mulder and Scully against a possibly psychic priest and gay Russian organ traffickers in the wilds of West Virginia. And in all honesty, it’s a pretty good episode, at that.

Where it fails for the new viewer, and therefore as a movie in general, is that it cannot escape nine years of collected backstory between the principle characters. And with as many old viewers as were dissatisfied by the conclusion of the series, it had to be open to some new viewers to have even a chance of success as a movie. Which is not to say that I think it was in any way a failure as an episode. As easy as it might be to make a joke[1] that the title is a quote from Chris Carter, “I Want to Believe that I can make some quick money off this and remind people that I am alive,” the truth is that, buried underneath all of the accumulated continuity, there is a deep and thoughtful exploration of two people who have lost or are on the verge of losing their belief: in God, in the presence of the truth, out there somewhere, in themselves, in each other. And it’s not like the theme of belief is limited just to our heroes.[2]

In short, the crew came back together to make a good movie that you will probably never watch, and that you’ll, for the most part, be right to avoid. It’s unfortunate, but these things happen every day, I guess. On the bright side, I think it makes for a pretty good (albeit unintentional) coda on the series. As a fan, I can live with that.

[1] I am willing to bet that someone already has, and probably weeks or months ago.
[2] Billy Connolly in particular as the fallen (in an all too modern way) priest: wow, the depth of a) theme and b) acting.

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