In the early 1960’s, at the height of the Space Race between the USA and Russia, three African-American female workers at NASA, Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae). The women must overcome prejudices in both their work and family lives, as they participate in the fateful 1962 mission to send astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) into space.
Taking a much more lively approach when compared to other biopics Hidden Figures seeks to tell a largely unexplored area of the history of the Space Race, looking at how mathematicians and ‘human computers’ were key to the many successes of NASA and how the women of colour who worked there managed to convince the government that their skills were vital in order to win the race.
Theodore Melfi keeps the tone positive despite the uneasy setting by focusing on how Katherine, Dorothy and Mary keep their lives happy despite their difficulties and the prejudices they face. The use of Pharrell Williams songs as backdrop, despite the fact that they sometimes don’t fit too well with the 60’s setting, is a unique choice that should keep people entertained. Taraji, Octavia and Janelle give amazing performances as the three protagonists and Kevin Costner and Kristen Durst give memorable approaches to playing NASA staff members; however on the other hand Jim Parsons comes off as playing a 60’s version of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, due to his flat acting abilities.
Overall, Hidden Figures does have a few more shortcomings such as being a bit inaccurate to actual events and being a bit too long, but it’s still manages to be one of the most interesting films about both NASA and the Space Race thanks to its interesting focus and committed performances.