Movie Review: The X-Files: I Want to Believe

August 2, 2008 Updated: October 1, 2015
 (20th Century Fox)
(20th Century Fox)

Shrouded in secrecy, The X-Files returns to our screens after a six-year hiatus. Very little is known about the plot, except that Mulder and Scully are drawn back into the X-Files by a case that requires Mulder’s particular brand of expertise. But what’s the big secret at the centre of this new mystery? Well that would be telling, wouldn’t it?

A stand-alone supernatural thriller, aiming to entertain loyal fans and just maybe rustle up some new ones as well, I Want to Believe takes place in “real time” – ie. six years since Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) were left together in the series finale. What’s transpired since is briefly touched upon during the more suspenseful (and better) opening half, as are many of the unanswered questions that the show left hanging. But really these are just nods for fans and will mean little to newbies or casual viewers. Luckily prior knowledge doesn’t affect the enjoyment of the film too much.

The only place in which it does is in the relationship between Mulder and Scully (or “Mully” as the tabloids would no doubt coin them). The bedrock on which The X-Files’ popularity was formed, the chemistry between Duchovny and Anderson was never less than palpable. It is no different here, all the best scenes in the movie are exchanges between the pair. Therefore knowledge of their impossible relationship is no doubt important to fully understanding what exactly is at stake.

For the rest of the movie, however, this isn’t an issue. In fact, it might be better to be fresh to the X-experience seeing as I Want to Believe so steadfastly sticks to X-conventions, especially in its formulaic second half. Of course, whether that’s a bad thing is down to a matter of taste. What it does offer is one decent twist and one exciting foot chase along the way. Unfortunately it arrives at somewhat of a disappointing denouement; too horror movie cliché rather than out-of-this-world science fiction.

All-in-all though, I Want to Believe is an enjoyable and not unwelcome reopening of The X-Files. A trifle unnecessary perhaps, but proof that there’s life in the old paranormal investigators yet.