The true story of how a group of African-American women pioneered the mathematical side of NASA’s first successful launch of a man into space. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae must not only deal with the impossibly difficult mathematics at hand but also the horrible inequality of that time (1961).
Hidden Figures is a classic case of a thrilling and important real life story that gets slightly hampered by an unremarkable delivery. As a film it’s solid enough, it just doesn’t do the central story justice really. People will go to see this because of that incredible story and at the end that’s the thing people will remember.
The performances are all very good and despite it being the year of 2017 it is just extremely refreshing to see such a strong POC cast. While Kevin Costner and Kirsten Dunst deliver very solid supporting roles, especially Costner, the real stars of the film are of course the central three Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae. Henson takes the most central role as the woman central to the main calculations for the craft, and although it’s a very compelling central performance I couldn’t help feeling that her actual character was underwritten in favour of just laying out her achievements – always a danger of the biopic territory. But Spencer and Monae’s characters enjoy the liberty of being supporting and thus have fully fleshed out characters that thrive. Octavia Spencer especially shines. Mahershala Ali is also terrific.
The film’s pacing is solid. It begins a little slow but once it finds its stride it is compelling. Funny and moving at all the right times. It’s delivered with workmanlike efficiency. The trouble is, this story and these characters deserve better. At the end of the day though this is a fun time at the cinema. Informative and enjoyable you won’t be disappointed.