Hack away the Monster Of The Week episodes, government conspiracies and whatever that black oil/aliens bollocks was all about, and The X Files was – as Lost is – a TV show about faith versus science. Scully the Catholic sceptic versus Mulder the atheist believer. And it's this theme that forms the core of their small-scale movie reunion. Where the 1998 X Files movie (aka Fight The Future) had blockbuster aspirations – explosions, the Antarctic, a whopping UFO – I Want To Believe is almost an indie (albeit funded by Fox...), at times little more than an audition reel to see if Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny can get back into character. They can, they do, it's electric... and the only reason to see this otherwise underwhelming outing.
Now a paediatrician and part-time brain surgeon, doleful Dr Dana Scully works in a Catholic hospital, tending to a boy with a disease incurable by conventional means. The FBI come calling; they want to get in touch with the AWOL Fox Mulder to get his take on a paedophile priest (a quietly impressive Billy Connolly) who claims to be having visions of the abduction. Being a full-time crackpot, bearded, bonkers Mulder takes little persuading to get back in the paranormal saddle; Scully, as ever, remains unconvinced...
As thrilling as they are, the Easter egg moments – when Scully can't sleep; when the cavalry arrives; a comical use of the show's 'sonic logo' ('dur-der-dur-der-dir-der...'), the post-credits punchline – are outnumbered by flaws. That breathy, melodramatic style of acting that works so well across 32-odd inches feels helplessly hammy when projected onto a screen, the soul-searching dialogue is stoner-student gibberish and the sequence where Scully Googles 'stem cell therapy' for half-an-a-hour and calls it research is simply ridiculous (why not just look it up on Wikipedia and save yourself the bother, love?). This '90s flashback is strictly for the faithful.
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