How Fast & Furious Saved My Sanity

Watching all 10 films in a week was the reset my soul needed

This year has been off-the-charts bad. My cup runneth over with pain and sadness. Anxiety, grief, and stress are in control most of the time. My heart palpitates, I grind my teeth in my sleep, my eyes fill with tears when least expected. To cope, some people may choose therapy, some meditation or deep breathing, some medication, others unhealthy vices, but I chose to watch The Fast and The Furious saga in rapid succession. And it worked.

Understand, this is not satire. I am so serious. My former self scoffed at watching a single one of these films. I assumed they were high-grossing box-office machismo pap that pandered to teenage boys. I’m an almost-40-year-old woman who doesn’t even like action movies and drives an eco-friendly car. What could they offer me? I was a fool. A hoity-toity fool.

After holding out for two decades, we said what the hell and streamed the original (and classic) 2001 film. Over the next 7 days, we watched not one, not two, but all ten films in the series, including the spin-off, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. Nothing has been as effective at turning off my toxic thoughts than spending one week doing very little beyond sitting in a dark living room getting to know Dom, Brian, and Letty, and then capping off the marathon by masking up and going to the theaters for F9. Here’s why.

After the first couple, they are just so familiar. You can even finish the characters' sentences as if you were old friends (because the lines are so predictable). That is not to say they’re all the same. In fact, you may as well forget everything you saw from one film to the next because the characters, backgrounds and premises are so inconsistent. But while the films morph from down-home illegal street racing to elaborate heist blockbusters, the formula remains dependable and true. There’s the getting-the-team-back-together montage, the scantily clad young women dancing with their arms above their heads, the villain, the easy-to-predict twist, and the racing, my goodness, the racing. It’s all there and it’s all there every time. There is absolutely no thinking or guesswork involved. There’s no need to focus on plots, just be present with them, be still for 2 hours in pure rest. In fact, you don’t even need to know the proper order of the movies. You have no choice but to suspend disbelief, and to suspend beliefs entirely. You will be blissfully disengaged from conscious thought. It’s a practice in mindfulness, or more aptly, mindlessness.

So sit back, relax, forget about the disaster the past two years have been, and repeat the mantra ride or die, ride or die, ride or die. Live your life a quarter-mile at a time and everything will be OK.