F.B.I. agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) are investigating a bomb threat in Dallas, Texas. Unfortunately, although they manage to evacuate the targeted building, there are a few casualties. But all is not what it seems, and the two agents are soon embroiled in a plot that involves a deadly extraterrestrial virus and impending Armageddon for the human race...
Written by creator Chris Carter from a story by him and Frank Spotnitz, the X Files movie was released about halfway through the series nine-year run, between seasons, at pretty much the height of its popularity. The television show at its best deftly combined science fiction and horror with a mystery element that it was careful to sustain: the enigma was never entirely resolved at the end of each episode, and only Mulder would believe in the truth of what had happened, with Scully being more sceptical. That pattern is followed here.
The film version makes no attempt to draw in anyone who wasn't a fan of the show in the first place, apparently working from the premise that most people who would want to see it would have watched a fair amount of the episodes, enough to follow the murky conspiracy-flavoured storyline, at least. The trouble is, this ongoing narrative was never the series' strong point - it always looked as if they were spinning out the tale for as long as possible with no real end in sight. The self contained episodes were usually more satisfying.
There is a nice line in self-deprecating humour and self-reflective points, what with Martin Landau's wacky conspiracy writer and an obvious reference to the Oklahoma bombing added to the mix of cabals and evil aliens. It's like a cross between All The President's Men and a gloomy version of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But it's really business as usual, with Mulder chasing his "truth" and Scully providing the counterpoint of reason (except we're never in any doubt that she's wrong and he's right).
Duchovny and Anderson are comfortable with their roles at this stage, but the characterisation never develops further than it does on TV; although it's nice to see a deepening of the hero and heroine's friendship, it never leads anywhere except to a "save the damsel in distress" ending. Having said that, there are good turns from some reliable character actors and a few of the familiar faces from the show appear. Fans of Scully should note that she disappears from the action for a long while in the second hour.
At the end of the season previous to the film, the X Files unit had been shut down, and the movie is concerned with setting them up again in time for the next season, meaning this is probably best watched in conjunction with them. It's not the best of the X Files, it's by no means the worst, it's just that it looks like the result of a TV fad and fashionable nineties paranoia rather than a fully grown movie in it's own right. Mind you, it does prove that's it's possible to make an entertaining film that features killer bees. Music by Mark Snow, which incorporates the theme tune at every opportunity.
American TV director and producer who worked on Star Trek TNG and The X Files before directing the movie version of the latter. Followed it up with dragon adventure Reign of Fire and comic book spin-off Elektra.