Expect the unexpected. That's what television's The X-Files has taught us over the past five years. And that's what series creator Chris Carter brings home with the feature debut of Twentieth Century Fox's The X-Files. The highly anticipated film –which stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson --silences the skeptics who wondered about the wisdom of bringing a television series to the movie screen while the series remains in production.
FBI Agents Mulder (Duchovny) and Scully (Anderson) are investigating a bomb threat on a federal office building in Dallas. The assignment is a bit more mundane than the former partners on the X-Files—the Bureau's rogue division dedicated to investigating the paranormal--are used to. When things go horribly wrong and five lives are lost, Mulder and Scully find themselves set up to take the fall. The balance tips back in their favor when Kurzweil (Martin Landau), an old friend of Mulder's father, points Mulder towards the questions nobody else seems interested in asking. As Mulder and Scully together seek out the truth of what really happened in Texas, the members of a mysterious global Consortium meet to determine their course of action in light of the developments in Texas--and in light of the agents' insistent pursuit of the truth.
The movie answers a number of long-standing questions while at the same time raising new mysteries that will give the show new direction when The X-Files returns to television. Although much remains unexplained, in the end, that's okay—after all, it wouldn't truly be an X-File if it did.
With a fast-paced story written by Carter and series co-executive producer Frank Spotnitz that's bound to keep audiences on the edge, the movie has all of the elements commonly found in a typical X-Files episode: unexplained phenomena, fright-filled moments, and multilayered subtext. Yet The X-Files isn't any ordinary action drama summer event film, thanks to a winning combination of an intelligently written, character-centered story, strong acting, and eye-catching special effects.
Nor is The X-Files solely for the 20 million viewers of the weekly television series. Carter's judicious and clever narrative setup results in a movie that's generally accessible to audiences without being redundant to longtime fans.
Director Rob Bowman, who's helmed 25 of the series' episodes, keeps the action rolling smoothly and crafts some exquisite shots that would have been impossible to capture on the small screen. And although the lighting seems as if it would be incongruous with the definition of The X-Files, the movie only underscores the fact that the characters of Mulder and Scully are the real essence of X-Files; everything around them is simply tangential.
Anderson and Duchovny's electricity translates smoothly to the big screen, and the high emotional quotient brings an undercurrent of energy and comraderie to their already unique relationship. Known for their subtlety and understated styles, both actors do well at making their performances go the distance on the larger canvas of the movie screen.