Starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. Rated 14A. Now playing
There was a lot of secrecy surrounding the new X-Files movie. The story line was kept under heavy wraps, and when stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson made the promotional rounds of the TV talk-show circuit, they’d be all coy about the plot, then look embarrassed after showing a lame clip of their respective characters—former FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully—chatting while a longhaired loonie (Billy Connolly) got all psychic on their asses. But the film’s big secret is out now: it sucks.
It kicks off with an army of FBI agents probing the ground with poles as they march across a snow-covered West Virginia field, following the exhortations of Connolly’s freaky Father Joseph (“It’s here! It’s here!”) until he leads them to a spot where a man’s mutilated arm is revealed. The fast-paced search sequence is intercut with shots of a woman driving along slippery, snow-packed roads only to get home and discover intruders who chase her down, but not before one of them takes a garden tool upside the head.
Those action-thriller aspects are soon usurped by heavy-handed, soap opera–style drama as Scully—now a deeply devoted medical doctor—is shown caring for a sweet boy who suffers from a life-threatening disease. At about this point, Anderson perfects the look of strained concern that will be her stock-in-trade throughout. It comes in handy when she tracks down the reclusive (i.e., bearded) Mulder in his hovel, amongst all his alien-abduction evidence, to ask if he’ll suspend his self-imposed exile and help find a missing agent. As expected, he grudgingly complies. Next thing you know, the two ex-agents are back roaming the hallways at FBI offices in Washington, D.C., where the fluid camera settles on a portrait of George W. Bush just as the eerie X-Files theme is heard. That’s a portent of subtle comedy to come, but it only manifests through Mulder’s increasingly lame wisecracks.
Apart from the ever-present snow, Canadian content is provided by Callum Keith Rennie, who shows up with a suspect Russian accent as the plot about abductions and harvested body parts unfolds. But that underwhelming story line doesn’t lift the film above the realm of one of the X-Files’ more talky and uninspired TV episodes. I want to believe this franchise is finished.