Devotion (2022) – film review


Directed by JD Dillard.
Starring Jonathan Majors, Glen Powell, Christina Jackson, Thomas Sadoski, Joe Jonas, Joseph Cross, Daren Kagasoff, Serinda Swan, Nick Hargrove, Boone Platt, Matt Riedy, Logan Macrae, Spencer Neville, Dean Denton and Adetinpo Thomas.


Two US Navy fighter pilots risk their lives during the Korean War and become some of the Navy’s most famous wingmen.

Early on with director JD Dillard dedication (written by Jake Crane and Jonathan Stewart, based on the book by Adam Makos), exemplary Navy aviator Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors) prepares, nuanced and defying any shred of humanity, in an otherwise conventional action blockbuster centered around a historical figure turns) on landing in front of new model airplanes on a carrier. Part of that preparation involves staring into a mirror and repeatedly insulting yourself to motivate yourself toward your goal. It’s immediately apparent that these are insults hurled at him by racists who don’t believe he fits in with his education and time served.

This type of scene might seem over the top and silly, but in execution it is extremely hypnotic and engaging; Jonathan Majors grimaces in seemingly impossible ways, with a gaze so focused and sharp you’d think the mirror would shatter.

As a result, the dangerous test run that follows is exhilarating (and breathtakingly clear from Erik Messerschmidt and a throbbing score from Chanda Dancy that applies to all the major action beats). There’s repeated cockpit footage of Jesse Brown, still stern and focused, using that verbal pain to prove his naysayers and doubters. It’s a refreshing approach to exploring racism on screen and through the lens of universal emotions, considering it’s not hard to imagine that many people in life are crushed and pushed away. Sometimes the best way to start a fire is to use those words and the damage dealt as a match.

That doesn’t mean everyone is there dedication is a rabid racist. During the Korean War, Jesse Brown still faces many racial barriers and obstacles to overcome (he was the Black Navy’s first pilot, after all), but he finds mutual respect and friendship in Lieutenant Tom Hudner (Glenn Powell, who already knows a thing or two about cinematic Dogfights as recently seen at the box office Top Gun: Maverick), who is primarily concerned with duty and his command to bring everyone home alive. Granted, some of those conversations are safe and obvious (Jesse points out that if he’d been a stickler for the rules like Tom, he would never have made it to where he is today). dedication is well intentioned and benefits from the direction of a black filmmaker wise enough to hold Jesse’s perspective through any complex discussion.

Surprisingly one of dedicationThe strongest segments of have nothing to do with aerial or ground combat (of which there are plenty here, although there is a lack of excitement at times). During some downtime, the pilots visit Cannes, where Jesse meets Elizabeth Taylor (Serinda Swan) on the beach and is invited to a gambling party. What follows is a unique social setting for a film in this genre, in which Jesse is met with initial racial grief at the door (the two men posted outside do not believe Elizabeth Taylor encouraged his presence) and then some more barbs inside, culminating with Tom jumping violently to Jesse’s defense.

Jesse doesn’t want that. “Just to be my wingman,” he says.

Inevitably, these men are put at risk with dedication tap into the horrors of war with cinematic bombast. Bullets are flying, explosions are everywhere and fighter pilots are crashing (often crashing into snowy landscapes, making for a visual treat) with expertly crafted sound design (director JD Dillard’s father was a pilot, so this and the care that went into it is great , to consider for the aircraft’s depiction, it’s safe to say that for the most part everything feels authentic).

Of course, Jesse is also devoted to his wife Daisy (Christina Jackson) and their child, which while it has emotional impact, also feels routine. Beyond Daisy, the supporting actress consists of interchangeable faces meant to belittle and confront Jesse, which is well and appropriate but lacks the depth and character that the leads bring to their roles. This also means that some action sequences lack a sense of urgency and risk, unless the film focuses on Jesse and Tom. Luckily, the filmmakers realize this and keep the landing.

dedication delights with a measured look at the prejudices of the time, mixing standard historical storytelling with audience-catching fanfare, and proving to be emotionally moving whether you’re familiar with Jesse Brown or not. Jonathan Majors continues to dominate the silver screen and continues to solidify himself as a must-see talent on the verge of superstardom.

Flickering Myth Rating – Movie: ★★★ / Movie: ★★★

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the editor of Flickering Myth Reviews. Check here for new reviews, follow mine Twitter or letterboxd or email me at [email protected]


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