For a franchise that started with a Point Break rip-off with fast cars subbed for surfboards, the Fast and Furious movies have become a global phenomenon, with a detailed character universe as complicated as any you’ll find on screen. The seventh — seventh — instalment of the franchise has been smashing box office records, taking in more than $500 million in its first week.

It is on track to eclipse emotional-abuse-dressed-as-S&M chick flick Fifty Shades of Grey as the most successful movie of 2015. And we could not be happier about that.

Yes, it has fast cars, ever more absurd plots, and regular explosions. But the F&F films have what few movies of any stripe, let alone balls-to-the-wall action movies, have: real heart.

And they have something else, something that mainstream Hollywood — and the Australian film industry — should take note of: diversity. Furious 7 passes the Bechdel test. At least four of its six main cast members are not white, with its diversity neither token nor patronising. And audiences have responded: 75% of the film’s North American audience was non-white.

It turns out film audiences want to see more than white men hitting other white men, they want to see themselves represented on screen. And that’s before you get to the bisexuality now quite deliberately on show in the franchise. “I appreciate a fine body regardless of the make,” muscle-bound, basso profondo-voiced Vin Diesel declared in one of the past instalments. Indeed. So can movie audiences, it seems. With at least two more F&F films in the works, we hope the studios are paying attention.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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