Review: Devotion

It shouldn’t surprise anybody that this was the second best Naval pilot movie starring Glen Powell to come out this year. This boringly titled Korean War film has flown under the radar…

…but has generated some pretty positive reviews from both critics and audiences alike. At the time of this writing it currently has a 7.0 on IMDb and a 66 from Metacritic. While that certainly isn’t a ringing endorsement of the film, the consensus seems to be that this certainly isn’t a bad film. I’d agree with that to an extent but given the subject matter…boy, is it boring.

Based on a true story, Devotion focuses on the relationship between two Naval aviators during the Korean War: Jesse Owens (Jonathan Majors) and Tom Hudner (Powell). Owens is the first African American pilot in the Navy’s history and Hudner is the clean cut, by-the-books officer out of the academy. Owens appears stand-offish at first in their relationship but Hudner goes out of his way to get to know his fellow wingman. As their relationship grows Hudner becomes more and more aware of how much harder Owens has had it than him in the Navy and learns to that there’s more to flying than protocols and orders. The cast also includes Cristina Jackson, Thomas Sadoski, Joe Jonas, and Joseph Cross among others.

Despite the obvious parallels to the original Top Gun, the film lacks a sense of fun needed to elevate a story like this. The supporting cast fails to provide any shot in the arm of adrenaline, the visuals aren’t particularly impressive, and most importantly Glen Powell, while certainly not miscast, offers nothing beyond his All-American good looks. Several storylines are started though never wrapped up and while there is an attempt at humor from their fellow aviators, it often falls flat, Sadoski feeling particularly out of place.

Majors is forced to carry this film almost single handedly and while he comes pretty close ultimately it’s just not enough. Some of his strongest moments are when Jesse is at home with his wife (Jackson) and baby daughter. He does have one scene in particular in the middle of the film that will make any Majors newbie keen to the fact that this guy is gonna be a star for a long time.

Other than Majors the biggest compliment I can give the film is the music, particularly the original score from Chanda Dancy. It’s currently being floated around as an Oscar hopeful and if I’m not mistaken I believe Dancy could become the first black woman to be nominated in this field so that’s certainly a cool and deserving storyline to keep an eye on.

Ultimately this film feels pretty cookie cutter for everything it tries to do. There’s nothing particularly ambitious about the integration storylines, the flight sequences, or in the visuals of the film. It’s clearly a holiday release hoping to right the coattails of Top Gun: Maverick looking to cash in between Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar: The Way of Water. Not a bad film, but not a particularly memorable one either.

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