Review by Camden Ferrell
After a summer dominated by Top Gun: Maverick, it’s hard to dismiss the surface level similarities between that and Devotion, a new biographical war movie coming out this week. However, this is an entirely different story, based on a novel about the real events surrounding Jesse Brown, an African American pioneer in military aviation. Directed by J.D. Dillard this is a crowd-pleasing and occasionally emotional war movie that will be lots of fun for audiences of all ages while teaching them about real life military heroes.
Jesse Brown and Tom Hudner are naval aviators during the Korean War, a conflict that isn’t as talked about as other American conflicts of the time. Together, they form a bond while dealing with their jobs as aviators and the dangers and complications that come from such a profession. This is a pretty straightforward war movie that has strong potential for entertainment due to its subject matter and authentic nature.
The movie makes it pretty clear from the start that it solely wants to play by the book in terms of its writing. This is the first feature screenplay from Jake Crane and Jonathan Stewart, and it’s content to play it safe and stick to traditional filming conventions. And this is where I think the movie works best. It doesn’t need to subvert expectations. For a movie like this, a no-frills approach to writing worked well for what it’s worth and was able to adequately tell the story at hand.
The acting was surprisingly the strongest aspect of this movie. In a war movie, you expect the action and tension to be the most interesting part, but both Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell command the screen throughout. Their performances are nuanced, unique, and they both have remarkable chemistry on screen together.
The movie also boasts some amazing aerial action that (while not being nearly as great as that of Top Gun: Maverick) is quite engaging and thrilling. It has some great tension and suspense to keep viewers on the edge of their seats, and it makes for some great blockbuster entertainment. There are some scenes that feel a little cheesy throughout, but overall, it does a great job of educating viewers about these real-life people and events while still making a fun and crowd-pleasing blockbuster that entertains above all else.
Devotion is a fun movie for all audiences and is able to tackle interesting themes about racism and privilege during this period of American history. Bolstered by great action, some emotional punches, and a great set of leading performances, this is a war movie that is worth checking out this Thanksgiving.
Devotion is in theaters November 23.