By David Baldwin
Ensign Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors, the future big bad of the MCU) is an outsanding pilot and the US Navy’s first black Aviator in history. Sadly, the racist troops around him do not think much of this incredible achievement. Enter Lieutenant Tom Hudner (Glen Powell) who joins Brown’s squadron just before they are deployed to fight in the Korean War. Hudner wants to get close to his new Wingman, but Brown is suspicious of his motivations.
The true story of Brown and what happened to him before, during and after Korea is incredible. That story is the beating heart of DEVOTION, and is the exact reason why the Film feels so disappointing and uninteresting. It merely goes through the motions telling the story and embellishing facts along the way, never really stopping for any moments of introspection or even reactions to some of the tragic things that happen. It is not given the love and attention it needs, and feels so callously put together rather than being a powerful story of Heroism and the strength of the human spirit. This is a story that deserves to be told, yet feels like it could and should have been done better. The flight scenes are great (even if they will unfavourably be compared to the ones in Top Gun: Maverick), the sound is top-notch as is the look of the Film. But if we are not really caring about the characters or the story, then why do any of these technical achievements matter?
All of that said, Majors is very good in the role of Brown. He feels a little stifled in some scenes, yet still manages to do an admirable job carrying the film under the weight of the lackluster script. Powell is wonderful as always, and supporting turns from Thomas Sadoski, Joseph Cross, Joe Jonas and especially Christina Jackson (playing Brown’s firecracker of a wife Daisy) are all well-done. I just wish they were all in a better movie.
DEVOTION screens as follows at TIFF ’22:
Mon, Sep 12 IN-PERSON Cinesphere IMAX Theatre 6:00pm
Wed, Sep 14 IN-PERSON Cinesphere IMAX Theatre 9:00pm
Thu, Sep 15 IN-PERSON Cinesphere IMAX Theatre 5:30pm