The series has a roaringly unsubtle bisexual subtext, introduced in the first two films perhaps by accident, but now deliberately and openly embraced.
What seems to throw a lot of critics is that the films are very important without being very good.
If blockbusters began in 1915 with The Birth of a Nation, then we’re just a year shy of the genre’s centenary.
Those 100 years have brought so many innovations – sound, colour, digital photography, 3D – that it’s worth taking a moment to marvel at the three things that have remained almost entirely unchanged since DW Griffiths’ Ku Klux Klan-glorifying epic was released.
Blockbuster cinema is, and always has been, overwhelmingly male, straight and white.
Take Star Wars: the noble, aryan, farm-reared Luke Skywalker would hardly look out of place on a Nazi Germany eugenics poster. Soulful tribal types saved by white messiah in heap-big robot suit.
The race-equals-difference mindset is so entrenched in Hollywood that Fast & Furious doesn’t set about laboriously subverting it, it simply ignores it – although it took Universal four instalments of the franchise to realise that was its USP.
In the first film, The Fast and the Furious, the central character is Brian O’Conner, a blond-haired, blue-eyed LA cop played by Paul Walker, who infiltrates the city’s street-racing scene, and wins the trust of serial hijacker Dominic Toretto, played by Diesel, who’s mixed-race.
Studios traditionally love characters like O’Conner: they’re safe, familiar avatars who can slip into exotic subcultures on the white audience’s behalf, and accordingly, the second instalment, 2 Fast, 2 Furious, stuck with this template.
Then there’s Indiana Jones: an Ivy League academic who swans off to the third world, relieves the locals of their artefacts, and packs them away in a museum. What’s more, on the rare occasions blockbuster heroes have not been white, they tend to be subbing for Team Caucasian.
Batman is a scion of the plutocracy; Iron Man a capitalist warmonger. Private-schooled, old money, born into the ‘right sort of family’. Axel Foley, played by Eddie Murphy in the Beverly Hills Cop films, is a street-smart Detroit native, but he only becomes interesting to the film (and, by extension, the majority of cinema-goers) when he attains fish-out-of-water status in the eye-shieldingly white Los Angeles neighbourhood of the title.
To see some fish in water, away from the blaxploitation ghetto and without a white partner in sight, you had to wait until 1995, when Devil in a Blue Dress and Bad Boys showed that studios were taking their first steps into a courageous future in which a black hero with a badge and gun doesn’t have to be chaperoned by Mel Gibson. It’s embodied by the Fast & Furious franchise, an ongoing series of car-chase movies (the seventh will be released next April, preceded by a ) which has made .4 billion worldwide to date by not being elite, nor white, not particularly straight.
The cast is racially mixed, both individually and as a group.