‘X-Files': No reason to ‘Believe'

This is it?

We waited 10 years for a sequel to the movie version of “The X-Files” – well, some of us must have – and the best Chris Carter could do is “The X-Files: I Want to Believe”?

Director Carter produced the film and wrote the script with Frank Spotnitz, who penned many episodes of the spooky TV show in the '90s. They've given us a mash-up of a procedural police thriller, a B-grade mad scientist movie of the 1950s and some mumbo-jumbo about God's influence that hasn't a real shock or surprise throughout its length.

The film gives up its villains and their purpose so quickly that revealing them here would barely qualify as a spoiler. The lone ambiguity – the predictions of a psychic priest who may or may not be part of the evil activity – is no ambiguity at all after a few minutes. The movie stumps slowly toward its foreordained finale clumsily, the way its characters stump through the snows of the coal country.

In the unspecified time since the last adventure, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) has found a job as a brain surgeon (in rural West Virginia?) and is trying to convince reluctant parents they should try a radical procedure on their dying son. Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), who's holed up in her house and bed, spends most of his time randomly tacking clippings to a den wall; he's hiding from the FBI after running away from false charges.

The Bureau offers to let him alone if he'll help them find a missing agent. They want Mulder to tell them whether to trust the visions of a priest known as Father Joe (Billy Connolly), who claims to be able to “see” the body parts of murder victims nearby. Any 6-year-old could tell them that, as Joe is invariably correct. But Joe's a lifelong pedophile, so Scully refuses to listen to anything he says. That drives a wedge between her and Mulder and zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Everything about the movie is drab: the music, the photography, the personalities of the bad guys, even the landscape. (This picture makes “Fargo” look like “The Rainbow Connection.”)

Duchovny delivers his usual semi-comatose, one-eyebrow-raised, quipping-in-the-face-of-danger performance, though Anderson tries to do more complex things until the clichéd dialogue strangles her. The mumbling Connolly looks only mildly pleased or irritated, even when bleeding from the eyes.

The Creator of All Things takes a beating in the muddled script. Scully's hospital administrator is a priest who proposes putting her patient in God's hands instead of an operating room, and the pedophile insists the Lord made him what he is. However, there are faint hints that the Bible contains coded messages and that God pulls everyone's fat out of the fire by the close.

Much is made of the fact that Father Joe tells Scully “Don't give up” at one point, as though this phrase contained the wisdom of the universe. He says he has no idea why he uttered it, but other characters repeat it like a mantra.

I suppose hope must spring eternal, even in the dull world of the post-TV “X-Files,” but this meaningless message makes an awfully lame climax to a film almost nobody needed in the first place.

Related stories from Charlotte Observer