Spoilers: yes, go see the film first unless you are one of those types who doesn’t mind getting a little bit of info about the plot first.
First off, I give credit to Chris Carter. He talked about this film being a stand alone film … a film that anyone that had never seen the series could sit and enjoy. To that is right ….. sort of … but I think he (intentionally or not) pulled a fast one on the movie going public. This film (unlike the last) is not connected to the “mythology” of the series, which were the episodes that dealt with the alien-government conspiracy. So, you really do not need to know much history to understand what is going on. It helps to know that Dana and Fox were long time partners at the FBI, and that they investigated cases involving the supernatural. If you’ve got that, you’re good to go.
The story picks up a few years after the close of the series. Dana Scully is now a pediatric surgeon at a hospital. Her lover, Fox, is secluded from society in their home, on the run from the FBI, and acting very much the part of the unabomber (except that he doesn’t mail letters or make explosives, and his shack is a small if not respectable home away from everything) …. he kinda just broods a lot and gets to occasionally bed the good doctor. He was finally drummed completely out of the FBI after years of it being threatened. It’s a life, but it is made out to be not much of one (though given the fact that he gets an occasional redezvous with Scully …. is life all that bad???). But I digress …..
An FBI agent has gone missing. The FBI has been contacted by a man claiming a psychic connection to the case. After the psychic turns up a severed arm related to the case, the FBI is cautious, but really needs a psychic expert to decide is he is the real deal, or perhaps an accessory. The FBI approaches Scully to get Fox Mulder … they grant amnesty in return for his assistance. Initially reluctant, Mulder jumps in, dragging a highly reluctant Scully along.
The rest of the film deal with Mulder chasing down the missing agent with the psychic (did I mention that the psychic is a convicted child molesting ex-priest). Of course, when they catch up to the perps, there is a really creepy reason that the agent was kidnapped for.
Meanwhile, back at the hospital, Scully is dealing with a boy who has a rare degenerative brain disease that will kill him. This hospital has written him off, though she wants to try a radical surgical therapy. There is a small chance it will work, but not without putting the boy through pain. A lot of people are telling her “no”, but deep down, she does not want to give up on the boy.
These are the “main plots” of the film, or so movie critics would have you believe … but I suspect they were fooled. The main plot, which to many is the “secondary plot”, deals with what happens in a relationship when things suddenly change. Scully and Mulder had settled into a routine: Scully worked at a job she liked …. didn’t have to worry about alien abductions or shotting it out with some mutant … Fox brooded … they got together every so often. Life is good. However, as Fox gets dragged into this case, he undergoes a rejuvenation: he is the old Fox again, and Scully does not like this. Scully has a nice monologue discussing how she now likes the darkness being out of her life, and feels that they are both better off without it. Fox however learns he needs to be out investigating. Dana has to deal with a patient being at the crossroads: when does one give up the fight? It parallels the Mulder-Scully relationship. As Scully gets more and more upset over Fox being involved again, she has to make the decision: hang with the old Mulder, or get out.
In the end, it is Scully who must wrestle with this idea: “Don’t give up” ….. with her patient, or her love (and make sure you stick around for the end of the closing credits for what is a brief, and almost certainly final David Duchovney and Gillian Anderson farewell to the fans). This is echoed in the subtitle: not just a belief in the paranormal, but a belief in self and a belief in each other, especially in times of change or difficulty.
I suspect that fans of the show will like this film. People who aren’t fans may occasionally get twisted around in the relationship aspects of the characters, since they are not familiar with the back story. Could it have been better somehow? Maybe, but if this is to really be the end for Agents Mulder and Scully, I don’t see it is a poor one and unlike so many episodes of the film, one that ends with a little hope.
Notes to parents: while this is based on a commercial television show, there is a little language. There is some blood, but hardly anything gratuitous. Almost all of the violence is implied, with little shown on screen (about the worst is an agent being pushed from a high floor at a construction site. You see her gun hit bottom next to some really nasty looking steel rods sticking up out of the concrete. Nothing is shown, but you know that her end was pretty nasty).