Heroes come in all forms, despite what Hollywood has been trying to make you think. Some wield lightsabers and mystical powers—others use math. Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures is a film about the latter and proves itself with all of the entertainment and fun of the former.
Cutting humor, immeasurable grace and the determination to tell the story of those pushed aside shine forth in a movie about mathematics and NASA’s attempts to put a man in space in the 1960s, and it’s three African American women who lead the charge in the face of segregation—both skin color and gender—for the right to equality.
Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe and Octavia Spencer make for one of the sassiest, most lovable trios in years. Balancing their own lives with the immense pressure of the task ahead of them the three make a case for those lesser known in history. They show us all that not all heroes have to be white…or male…and it is a bold step forward into finally bringing in more people of color to headline a film all on their own—and they succeeded on all levels.
Kevin Costner and Jim Parsons also deliver, though the latter can be quite an ass as he belittles and shuns Henson’s Katherine G. Johnson every step of the way. While the trio continually breaks down the barriers one by one, it’s people like Parson’s Paul Stafford that stand in the way. There’s hope though, and people can change if we give them time.
Melfi’s direction is brisk and exciting. In a movie that is all about math and the less glamorous side of space travel, its the women who make it both surprisingly fascinating and wickedly entertaining. Sharp dialogue and the soulful beat of Pharrell Williams’ music take you away into a period of time that had yet to really see the light of day—but it still remains optimistic.
Hidden Figures probably won’t win many awards, but it doesn’t need to. It has already succeeded in smashing Rogue One out of the #1 spot at the box office, and it has held its reign still—people want these movies that have heroes that aren’t just white or male; they want scientists and mathematicians; they want women and people of color. This movie has it all—and then some.