Devotion, an aerial war epic based on the bestselling book of the same name, tells the inspirational true story of two elite US Navy fighter pilots who helped turn the tide in the most brutal battle in the Korean War: Jesse Brown, the first Black aviator in Navy history and his fellow fighter pilot and friend, Tom Hudner. Their heroic sacrifices and enduring friendship would ultimately make them the Navy’s most celebrated wingmen.
What We Thought:
I wish Devotion was better because the story of Jesse Brown is pretty interesting. It’s another movie of late that the less you know the better the film is. I wasn’t familiar with Jesse’s story so I didn’t know how the movie would end. You might have assumptions, but try to know as little as possible if and when you see it.
The problem with the movie is the production. The story is great. Jonathan Majors is very good and I can’t wait to see him in Creed III now. This is the second film this year with Glen Powell looking very much like an aviator (Top Gun: Maverick being the other). I just wish the film itself was better. It doesn’t look bad per se and the flight scenes are decent, but it’s just lackluster to me. It relies too much on emotion and tugging on heart strings and it needed better production overall.
In the 1980s there was Top Gun and then Iron Eagle which felt like a copycat. That’s sort of the same issue here. If Top Gun: Maverick hadn’t been the blockbuster it was, maybe Devotion wouldn’t get compared to the #1 film of the year. It’s not fair because Devotion is based on a true story, but Top Gun: Maverick will be the comparison unfortunately. Tom Cruise’s film was breathtaking and thrilling. Devotion isn’t. Should it be? Maybe not because the story is fascinating, but let’s be honest, two fighter pilot movies in the same year will be compared to one another fair or not.
Jonathan Majors does his best to get the audience to root for him and cry with him. As a black Navy pilot just as the Korean War is starting to build up, he faced adversity. Some of his white counterparts may not have believed he deserved to be there. He seemed to have to do double the work to get the same credit. He faced racial discrimination even in other countries. Majors handles the role well and has good chemistry with Powell who you truly believe could be friends together.
Devotion is based on a true story and is more of a historical drama than action movie. Unfortunately it’s opening the same year as one of the biggest action movies in movie history which it will unfairly get compared to. It doesn’t have the blockbuster vibe or star power of Maverick and because of that it will most likely slip by most viewers. It’s a heavy film that made a lot of people cry, I’m just not one of them. I think Brown’s story deserved a film, I just wish that film was a bit better.