A pair of U.S. Navy fighter pilots risk their lives during the Korean War and become some of the Navy’s most celebrated wingmen.
THE GOOD STUFF
JONATHAN MAJORS- There are some who do believe that the rather sizable amount of high-profile gigs Majors has been landing lately has been somewhat out of nowhere and, to some, mostly undeserved. The man is supposedly the new Big Bad of the MCU, and with that comes a hell of a microscope. But anybody who knows better, Majors has made his name, knocking out heartfelt performances in very under-promoted movies like this.
Usually, when it comes to military big-screen biopics, it takes a real leading man-type performance to get you through all of the recognizable tropes that come with films such as these. Those tropes are very present here, and they are predictable from a mile away. But Majors makes them all go down rather smoothly. He is the real deal. This leading man will be around for as long as he wants to. Some of us will just identify it earlier than others will.
VISUALS- I got to admit, I was a bit shocked at how well the war scenes were done in this film. I’ve seen enough shoddy CGI war films to expect the worst coming into this, yet these battle sequences were quite impressive on a big screen. Believe it or not, this is a $90 million film, and it’s very clear where the majority of this budget went.
THE FRANCE SEQUENCE- Not too long into the second act of this film, our group of protagonists go to visit France because they’re on leave. It is here where the bonding between the group really comes to fruition, even though the story wants us to believe that they were friends for a long time before this. They confront their racist army rivals, meet Elizabeth Taylor, and hobnob with her at an elitist party. The sequence was very fun.
THE (kinda sorta) BAD STUFF
GLEN POWELL- To say he’s flat-out bad is simply inaccurate. Glen Powell is an actor with a particular….vibe. I’ve seen him enough now to understand that he has the smug douchebag persona down to a tee, and he’s proven that persona to be both likable and unlikable in various projects.
What I am not used to and am kind of iffy about currently is Glen Powell doing the heavy stuff. This movie, at its core, is a serious drama. Normally I am against typecasting people. I feel that everybody deserves a chance to stretch out their repertoire. The problem is that there’s a noticeable contrast between how Jonathan Majors handles the heavy stuff and how Powell does. I’m not saying he can’t get better at it, but as of right now, Glen Powell doing the heavy lifting when it comes to drama is enough to discombobulate my suspension of disbelief.
THE UGLY STUFF
THE 1ST ACT- Absolutely mundane. I say respectfully that when directors like Spielberg or Eastwood do a war film, there’s a lot more earnestness in which they tell the stories of their soldiers. Their movies are usually two and a half hours long, giving the characters time to simmer over the running time.
Devotion is noticeably shorter than anything from directors like those. And because the budget is so clearly going to the war sequences, and because the war sequences last as long as they do, it just seems like the backstories exist because they have to. We only get to the backstory of Jonathan Major’s character, and we don’t really do that for a decent amount of time. It is the character stuff that makes the classic war movies classic war movies, and they didn’t have much time for that, it seems.
I respect devotion for what it’s trying to be and for what it almost pulls off. It is rather confusing to me how underpromoted movies such as this end up with 90 million dollar budgets. When that 90 million is clearly put to something that is trying to feel bigger than what it truly is… I can’t help but respect that. I respect this movie more than I like it.
DEVOTION is in theatres now