Watching The Fate of the Furious is also simultaneously forgetting it in real time. This was absolutely aided by consumption of Skywalker OG, a forbidding but pleasant indica that obliterates short-term memory like so many Alderaans.
The Fate of the Furious picks up a few months after Vin Diesel’s tearful beachside farewell to deceased franchise co-star Paul Walker. Diesel’s now-retired Dominic Toretto is pulled back into the life of high-speed villainy by a worldwide hacker known as Cipher, a steely-eyed sociopath played by Charlize Theron with ill-advised blonde dreads. Toretto must betray his former crew and steal something or other and then car chases and butts and explosions and Kurt Russell.
Essentially a full-length trailer for itself, The Fate of the Furious has an amnesia-inducing sameness that cheerfully obliterates any sense of plot, character, or theme. Having previously succumbed to mixing cinema and indica with mostly pleasing results, I chose Skywalker OG specifically for its mind-erasing qualities. The Furious movies are designed to be watched this high.
And indeed, being ripped is certainly the best way to enjoy Jason Statham karate-kicking bad guys while cradling a smiling baby. The Skywalker also helped me fully appreciate The Rock’s exquisite delivery of the line, “I will beat your ass like a Cherokee drum.” But those are the only things I can recall about the film without looking at my notes.
I don’t think the weed is entirely to blame. The spectre of Walker’s death gave the previous installation (James Wan’s feverish Furious 7) a crackling human energy that excused its absurd excesses. Here, when a weightless CGI submarine bursts through a frozen lake to pursue a crew of million-dollars cars rocketing across the crumbling icy surface, the movie thoroughly reveals the franchise’s cartoon aspirations.
Fitting, then, that the best part of The Fate of the Furious are the humans themselves. Watching these performers change through eight movies over sixteen years has been like growing up with the adult cast of a non-magical un-whitewashed Harry Potter. Having seen every episode in the cinema, I reacted along to the 25% of the audience who gasped at the appearance of old faces and deep references to Tokyo Drift. (The same percentage who most likely imbibed before the showing.)
In the open air, the Skywalker worked its dreaded effect on rendering previously-known spaces obscure. I took the wrong subway, something that has not happened in fifteen years of living in New York. My twenty-minute ride ended up taking an hour. At each transfer, I walked up and down endless staircases, lost, fluorescent lights buzzing overhead.
But when I got home, I realized I had not thought about the movie once since leaving the theater, subsumed by the humming body-high of this sweetly dominating indica. As I lay in bed trying to remember, all I could summon was a never-ending series of cars crashing while explosions of fire blossomed around celebrity actors leaping with sweaty grimaces through the steel-blue air.