Released: Out now
Director: Chris Carter
Screenwriter: Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz
Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Billy Connolly, Amanda Peet
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Running Time: 104 mins
There is a point towards the start of Mulder and Scully’s comeback flick where they’re waiting outside a door in a faceless corridor in the FBI offices. On one side of the door is a picture of President George W Bush and as our two believers look at it, then at each other, the show’s signature note refrain rings out. Is the commander in chief an alien? For one horrible moment it looks like we’re headed down the same history-debasing route as Jones and his Crystal Skullage… Thankfully, this is the only throwaway moment director and writer Chris Carter indulges in and the rest of the film adheres strictly to the X Files casebook. The problem is that it adheres a little too strictly to it.
Opting for an enclosed story that eschews the convoluted conspiracies of before is a wise move, it has been six years since the X Files were officially closed, but the case that Carter and co-writer Spotnitz have come up with is surprisingly rudimentary. There’s a kidnapped FBI agent and a slapdash of psychic prophesising from Billy Connolly’s paedophile priest, but the resultant investigation struggles to fill the feature-length running time. Indeed, it all feels too much like a prolonged episode, something the limited 30 million budget fails to disguise, which is closer in tone to a police procedural and which bears surprisingly little of the supernatural at all.
There are nods to the past, especially in the Mulder and Scully relationship, but the film appears confused as to how much fidelity it should demonstrate. There are too few links to the series’ previous goings on for the diehards, but newcomers will be lost in places, and it is hard to see who it is really aimed at – fans or non-fans. As a result of this confusion, the film mistakenly retreads too much familiar territory – do we need to be told that Mulder wants to believe because he wants to save his sister?
In casting itself adrift of the series’ convolutions too, the film is stripped of some of the show’s potency. With the real world stymied by a lack of faith in the government and the powers that be, you’d think there would be an appetite for a spot of conspiracy theorising. Carter, though, thinks otherwise and as a result, this new X File feels wholly irrelevant and disappointingly unnecessary. Time has moved on, and it is hard to find a reason to believe in what is presented here.