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The X-Files: I Want to Believe & r & & r & by MARYANN JOHANSON & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & Y & lt;/span & es, this is "just" a big episode of the show, but it wouldn't be The X-Files if it weren't. The X-Files was always about being small and quiet and thoughtful and intellectual: Our protagonists were an academic and a medical doctor; their badges and sidearms were incidental. They were never action heroes. And this is not a "summer" movie: Nothing blows up, no one's left hooks land on a villain's jaw, no treasure is found, no one flies off into the nebula at the end. This is science fiction drama with the emphasis on the drama. There are no monsters here except the all-too-human kind, and no demons except the all-too-familiar ones that plague us all.





Like doubt. If there's a villain here, it's doubt, with the "I want" of the subtitle stressed with a kind of desperation. Because doubt here seems stronger than faith, seems more likely to win out: doubt in ourselves, doubt in others, doubt in God -- if you feel the need to believe in a god, as Scully still does. Mulder still doesn't. But they believe in each other, still, even now. They've both left the FBI. She's working as a doctor in a Catholic hospital, where her faith is tried on a regular basis, not just by patients with terrible diseases but by an administration that doesn't always see God's will in the same way that she does. He's something of a recluse, spending his days clipping newspaper articles about mysterious phenomena, and not doing much else, it seems. But when an FBI agent goes missing, and the Bureau brings in a psychic to help them find her, Mulder's expertise is required. And then he drags Scully back into the work, too....





Much of the joy of this flick comes in visiting with old friends. Mulder's sense of humor has gotten darker, Scully has gotten more judgmental: They've hardened into being more themselves than ever. And their relationship has changed, too, and yet still feels fluid; it's still changing. In fact, it's threatened by this case -- not by external forces but by their own individual demons. Stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson still have some of the most potent chemistry two actors have ever had together onscreen, and it manifests itself in ways that continue to be uniquely X-Files, in a push and pull of faith and doubt in each other that lends this quiet flick surprisingly depth.





While devotees of the show are catching up with Mulder and Scully, nonwatchers of the show can enjoy the horror movie for grownups. Billy Connolly's psychic, the one helping the FBI, slowly unfolds as a disturbingly creepy presence. And what has happened to the missing agent, and then to another woman who goes missing, is both deeply rooted in the kinds of B-movie nightmares we've come to expect from The X-Files and also uniquely anticlimactic in the way that the TV show often was, as if to suggest that what Mulder and Scully and we have seen here is just the tip of the iceberg. That was always the most sinister thing about The X-Files: it never felt like it was over. (Rated PG-13 )

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