The new historical film Hidden Figures starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Kevin Costner has a very appropriate title. Many people are unaware or even thought to care about the vital mathematics and computing going on behind the scenes in the early days of the NASA Space Program. They also probably didn’t know many of the individuals that helped put astronaut John Glenn into space were African-American women working in poorly lit, windowless rooms in the segregated facility hidden away for no one to see. Hidden Figures is the type of film that sheds a dark light on a respected institution like NASA, but also shows the inspirational tales of the people who decided they wouldn’t stand in the shadows any longer.
There were many people in the background who helped the US win the Space Race, but Hidden Figures focuses on three ladies who were not only breaking the color barrier in the space program, but crossing gender lines proving women were just as smart (if not smarter) as the men. Taraji P. Henson plays Katherine Johnson, a mathematical genius who can’t get the high level clearance she so desperately desires due to gender and race. Henson is also joined by Oscar winner Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan, a woman in charge of all the African-American administrative and computer female employees even if she doesn’t have the title she deserves. Rounding out the trio is singer Janelle Monáe as aspiring engineer Mary Jackson who fights for her right to work on the crafts that would take our men into space.
The entire cast involved in Hidden Figures are fantastic and get their big moments to shine. You would think one of the three talented ladies’ storylines would get pushed aside, but all of the groundbreaking women of NASA get their due on the big screen. Henson has some major moments as she tries to navigate a room full of white male faces that don’t want her there. Kevin Costner gets to share some nice moments with Henson on-screen as Al Harrison. Costner gets to represent the changing tides at NASA as a man who will with work anyone to help put an American safely in space. Spencer shows her sly side as the no-nonsense Dorothy, but surprisingly Janelle Monáe steals the show at times as the determined woman who will change the law to become an engineer.
Besides the first-rate acting from the ladies, the plot in Hidden Figures is very engaging and tells an important story more people should be more familiar with. The film doesn’t sugar coat NASA’s segregated past and shows the revered institution had issues with race and gender, which could have led to disaster for our astronauts since the best people for the job were being held back. Hidden Figures is the type of movie that shows how far we have come in society and will hopefully inspire others to overcome the obstacles blocking their goals. More than anything, Hidden Figures is an immensely enjoyable film anchored by Oscar worthy performances in an untold story from the past deserving of attention from today’s audiences.
Overall, I give Hidden Figures 3.5 out of 4 stars.
Read all T.M.’s reviews here–>Entertainment Now with T.M. Powell