Even though I very much enjoyed Top Gun: Maverick, there are two inspiring movies about military service that genuinely my heart this year. The first is The Inspection, which tells the true story of a gay man serving in the Marine Corps, despite the prejudice and adversity he faces. The other is another true story about the friendship between Naval pilots Jesse Brown and Tom Hudner, who both served during the Korean War. Directed by J.D. Dillard, Devotion portrays the strength and conviction of Jesse Brown, a Black American pilot who served proudly as a Naval aviator, regardless of the prejudice he encountered throughout his life.
The film begins when Brown (Jonathan Majors) and Hudner (Glen Powell) first meet when recruited to fly as air support for the fighting soldiers and marines fighting North Korea after their invasion of the South. While Hudner seems to respect his new wingman, Brown must continue to face prejudice and adversity despite his courage and skills as a pilot. As the two pilots get to know each other better, trust each other, and share a mutual respect, this helps bolster Brown’s dedication and skills to become the hero his country needs.
Based on the novel Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice by Adam Makos, screenwriters Jake Crane, Jonathan Stewart, and director Dillard turn what is essentially an inspiration story into a powerful and thrilling piece of cinema. The movie delivers exciting flight and battle sequences, but never embellishes too extravagantly. When the pilots are grounded, the filmmakers are sure to maintain the focus on the character development of their protagonists and their growing friendship. The movie also does a great job of exploring the tortured psyche of Jesse Brown and the impact that prejudice has had on his mind, heart, and soul.
As the two protagonists, both Jonathan Majors and Glenn Powell perform swimmingly. Their chemistry makes the friendship come across realistically and in ways that poignant and touching. These talented actors beautifully capture all that made these individuals remarkable and admirable. Their acting also shows how important friendship and brotherhood is during wartime.
While Top Gun: Maverick is awesome and needs little support to promote its greatness, I feel that Devotion is a film that can get easily overlooked. Its unassuming release in theaters needs all the support it can get, as the filmmakers and actors who brought this heartening story to life deserve as much love and respect as the men who lived it.