Directed by: J.D. Dillard
Distributed by: Sony Pictures
Written by Alexander Reams
If there was a perfect storm for a movie to fail, this has to be in the top 5. J.D. Dillard’s third feature focuses on two pilots during the Korean War (one of the most forgotten wars in history and one of the most unsuccessful periods to make a movie in). Released in the same year as a record-breaking movie about the U.S. Military and pilots that has one of the co-leads of “Devotion” in its supporting cast, “Top Gun: Maverick.” Then there was the marketing, with a big push at TIFF for awards contention but it walked away empty-handed. There was about a week of buzz for the film in early October, and then it all fell flat, the distance between its September premiere and hitting theatres the following month killed the momentum, which is a shame because “Devotion” is surprisingly good.
Dillard’s restrained approach to Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors) provides us with a different perspective on pilots and what the mental toll on them was, along with Brown’s struggle of being a black man in the Navy. This is conveyed beautifully through Jonathan Majors, who has quickly grown to be a performer to always be excited about. While his role is more restrained than some of his previous films, his tenderness comes through his rough exterior and Majors uses the struggle to belong to add another level of emotion to the film. Alongside Majors is Glen Powell as Tom Hudner, his wingman and eventual friend. This friendship is the backbone of “Devotion” and Dillard never lets the audience forget that, even during a climactic battle in Korea, that demonstrates how their relationship has evolved is front and center. Dillard has made a well-acted, well-directed war film that is only being forgotten because of another movie that was released earlier and a horrendous marketing campaign. It is a shame because it’s worth it for Majors and Powell alone.