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The X-Files: I Want to Believe

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The good news about the latest movie spin-off of the once-hot X Files TV show is also the bad news. Even with original creators Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz at the controls, there are no flying-saucer conspiracies. No black oil, no Smoking Man, no Lone Gunman. There’s just a creepy, slow-moving, small-scale mystery/ICU thriller with borderline psychic elements and some of the heavy Catholic angst that infused the show. Ex-FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are a cohabiting couple (but still haven’t warmed up enough to start calling each other by their first names), haunted by the loss of their son. Scully is now a surgeon in a grim hospital called Our Lady of Sorrows; Mulder is unshaven and unemployed until he gets a summons from the FBI to find a missing agent in snowy West Virginia. Enigmatic clues derive from an outcast pedophile priest (Billy Connolly), now suddenly afflicted with visions. Scully doesn’t hide her disgust for the clergyman or her annoyance at her common-law spouse plunging into the case as though he can discern the very fingerprints of God in it. Plotline ends up being a hair too gruesome for prime time -- a cross between Robin Cook’s medical thrillers and the lighter side of torture porn. Conceivably, utter strangers to the TV mythos will enjoy the flick’s mood and grown-up drama more so than fanboys expecting Incredible! UFO! Revelations! In any case, sit through the closing credits for a nice closing shot. **1/2

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