© 2008 Ray Wong
After almost 10 years, one must ask: "Why do they still want to make another X-File movie?" I'd like to think that it's because they have a good script that may answer and tie up some of the loose ends left unanswered by the TV show. Alas, such is not the case.
When an FBI agent was abducted, Agent Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet) seeks out Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), who has quit the FBI and is now working at a hospital. What Agent Whitney really wants, however, is Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), who is leading very much a reclusive life away from everything. The FBI is being helped by a Father Joe Crissman (Billy Connolly) who claims to have psychic power and can see what happened to the missing FBI agent. He sees things, and helps the agent find a severed arm that may have belonged to one of the attackers. Somehow Scully is able to convince Mulder to help in the case even though she doesn't believe Father Joe really has psychic power.
When Scully finds out Father Joe is a convicted pedophile, her view changes. She doesn't want to get involved in the case anymore, while Mulder starts to believe Father Joe. Scully doesn't want the darkness of their old lives, but Mulder lives for it. Meanwhile, Scully's faith is shaken when the hospital rejects one of her patients, a young boy dying of a rare brain disease. In researching for a treatment for the boy, Scully discovers disturbing facts about Mulder's suspects, and she must reluctantly comes to Mulder's rescue as he puts himself in danger trying to pursue the men.
David Duchovy (Californication) reprises his most famous role as Agent Fox Mulder. He looks and acts just like he did years ago, and he eases back into the character. Except he seems to have lost his edge. In this film, Mulder appears to be less driven and sharp (must be all the macaroni and cheese he has while in "retirement"). He gives off a vibe that since he's done the role for so many years, he's just coasting here.
Gillian Anderson (The Last King of Scotland) fares a bit better as Dana Scully, Mulder's equally famous partner. She looks noticeably older than the last we saw her as Scully, and more mature as well. Yet she's successful in keeping her character's intensity and skeptical nature. Also, the revelation about the relationship between Mulder and Scully seems to have dampened, not enticed, their chemistry. And they don't spend enough time on screen together.
Supporting cast includes Amanda Peet (Syriana) and Xzibit (xXx: State of the Union) as a pair of FBI agents. I guess they're supposed to offset Scully and Mulder, but they just come off as lame. Peet has nothing to do, and Xzibit's Agent Drummy is so annoying and incompetent that he adds nothing to the story. Callum Keith Rennie (The Invisible) gives a solid performance as the steely, creepy abductor, and Billy Connolly (Fido) has one of the best roles in the film and he delivers.
Written and directed by the X-File alum Chris Carter, the script is disjointed and mundane. At least we had alien colonization in the last film. This time around, the story seems more suitable for a TV episode than a feature. In fact the whole film feels like a long TV episode of the X-File, and not one of its best either. The relationship between Mulder and Scully, especially after all these years, are not fully developed and explored. The parallel stories of the abduction and Scully's dilemma at the hospital feel forced and disjointed. The mystery and horror remind us of Silence of the Lambs, but it's not fully developed either. I'm extremely disappointed with both the plot and the character development. It seems to me someone must have said, "Let's throw a few things together and call it a feature."
There are some intense moments and how the mystery unfolds in the beginning is intriguing enough. But Carter makes a mistake by following the abductors and yet not giving them enough time to reveal themselves or for the audience to know more about them. Why are they doing what they do? The pacing is off, and the plot loses its focus. The action sequences are tame as well.
I really wanted this to be good -- I was hoping that after all these years, they would have come up with a great script that answers a lot of questions from the original series. Now, I really do think Chris Carter never really has any answers. I don't believe anymore.
Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly, Xzibit, Callum Keith Rennie, Adam Godley
Director: Chris Carter
Writers: Frank Spotnitz, Chris Carter
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violent and disturbing content and thematic material
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Script – 6
Performance – 7
Direction – 6
Cinematography – 7
Editing – 7
Production – 7
Total – 6.6 out of 10