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The Complete X-Files:
Behind the Series, the Myths, and the Movies
by Matt Hurwitz, Chris Carter
(Discounted Hardcover from Amazon)
"The X-Files: I Want to Believe"
Sometime before the ninth season and the 174th episode I dropped off the grid. It was when the supernatural-bizarre level left gravity and what I considered acceptable zones for paranormality. I felt that Chris Carter, writer, co-writer and director, for want of ideas to please his legions of fans, came to equate extremes of disgust (black slithery things writhing in and out of orifices) and other vaccine-less threats to humanity. I'm pleased that, for this film version, he's tempered the imagery and returned to earth orbit.
Which is not to say this case file doesn't leap to the fantastical, but a fallen Father with clairvoyance isn't too hard to take when all else in the scenario is nothing but human--good, bad and off-the-scale degenerate. Call it supernatural light.
A line of dark-uniformed FBI agents scour a field covered in snow. Leading the troop is a single figure. As we will learn, he is Father Joseph Crissman (Billy Connolly), a defrocked priest with a sexually predatory rap sheet--who has convinced the agency that he sees visions by helping them solve, or dissolve, cases. With much drama, he halts, falls to his knees and starts digging. He comes up with a human arm.
As a surgeon and an ex-FBI agent, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), is called in by ASAC Dakota Whitney (gorgeous Amanda Peet) for a forensic session. The result of her inspection--and the involvement of claims of "visions" that gives it the X-files factor--brings her to an isolated little house which harbors the now hermetic, retired Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) to assist her on the case.
Cut past the arguments and the testy session at FBI HQ and our familiar team is asking hard questions of the pedophile priest who remains colorfully modest about his "gift." Meanwhile, a young, beautiful girl (Nicki Aycox) is being spotted by grizzly Franz Tomczeszyn (Fagin Woodcock) underwater in a swimming pool. After the swim, he follows her--his next victim in an obvious series--and, with his ice-scraper-outfitted truck, forces her off the road and into a rock, whereupon he captures and imprisons her in a cage with a view of a private operating room. She's to be next to lose an organ for transplantation to one of these creep's near-death compatriot who received his wounds at the hand of their preceding vic who put up a fight with a hand rake across the face. What we have here is Mengele medicine. (For those who may not know, Joseph Mengele was a homicidal Nazi doctor who ran human experiments during WWII that caused death to hundreds--a personification of evil).
Back to Mulder and Scully, we're shocked to find her in bed... and him rising into view behind her. Not that it's unexpected--we know that their repressed romance has been requited. But the suddenness of them in these circumstance occurs without preparation. No previous sign of affection--not even a kiss, a rub, a touch, a knowing glance, dammit! It's more awkward than effective, however, with post-coital modesty that skips a number of steps in the always present sub-text, the "colleague romance" between two committed loners. From the looks of things, now, it's to be carried on in Elizabethan mode--strictly under the blanket--without a bare leg or other extremity in evidence.
Besides the revived partnership in exploration for the truth, tinged with four dimensional mystery, there's a lot of fretting here. Scully, early on, decides to bow out and get back to her patients--in particular, a young boy with an untreatable brain disease, after having ignited Mulder's fires. It's almost not fair to anyone, but it keeps the connections alive as our searchers go through their conflicts, internal, external and eternal. Each re-grasps their roles with attentive participation.
Connolly masters the penitent degenerate role with enough power to grab and hold audience attention, making him a morally dissipated interlocuter between good and evil worthy of a role in a feature film and one of the series' better creations. Peet, as an FBI agent who can put institutional agendas aside in order to inject Mulder's paranormal experience and expertise into their investigation sparks the proceeds with male-paralyzing eyes and toughness, a nice addition to her portfolio that helps make this look like a feature, as well. Alvin "Xzibit" Joiner plays Agent Mosley Drummy, the stern non-believer in the crowd, to the hilt. All other casting, directing and production values are pro.
Anyone who watched the X-Files on TV would be more seasoned to appreciate the historical Mulder-Scully subtleties, which the film preserves and extends. Others will not be so disposed and take the film, at best, as a minor little mystery with these relationship details disconcerting and, perhaps, diminishing. As a curious-to-recapture-the-past X-fan, I'm glad it came together as well as it did despite the quality of "after-the-fact" aging. It isn't wine, and time doesn't do it any favors. But I do want to believe.
~~ Jules Brenner