Movie Review: Devotion

What is most impressive about the new movie “Devotion” is that it will remind all who see it about the underlying logistics of war movies. This film has many vintage war planes used during the Korean War in the 1950s. This means that these planes have been stored in a warehouse somewhere in the world and have to still be maintained and mechanically sound – and then flown by stuntmen during the making of this movie. Flying very old planes the way they are flown during this movie had to be very dangerous – because given the machinery is so old, anything might go wrong. One amazing side story involved the use of the world’s oldest helicopter where a part had to be taken from the Smithsonian to get it to fly Many of the combat scenes have reminded me of recent war movies about World War 2, including “Midway”, reviewed in this blog.

What is most amazing about aerial combat scenes is when these incredibly brave pilots dive down into enemy fire straight into the ground with gunfire all around them, facing certain death. Given all the gunfire they faced as they flew straight down, it seemed impossible that any plane could have survived. It is also hard to believe given the technology of the 1940s and 50s that airplanes like these could accomplish such impossible aerial feats. The courage of these pilots through all of these world-changing wars was always unbelievable and this movie did a good job, mostly at the end of this story, showing the danger these pilots faced.

The problem with this movie is that there are too many times within this story when what is going on is slow and too boring to maintain the continuity and viewer interest in the story. There is too little action, and too much peripheral filler that looked like it was designed to make the film a full two hours, rather than enhance the story. All of these filler scenes we have all seen before in war movies, there is nothing new here.

The positive side of this true story is about the friendship between Jesse Brown and Tom Hudner well played by Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell. Jessie Brown is the only black man within his unit of aviators and like all black men in the arm forces during this time, faced prejudice and bigotry. Inside the group of aviators, Jessie is treated with respect, but outside his unit, he faces bigotry that understandably results in violence. There are highs and lows within the friendship between Brown and Hudner that are all about the issues involving racial injustice and the chain of command. All of these scenes are very well acted.

This movie could have been much better had there been more war action scenes, but this issue was most likely caused by budget constraints. There are too many “we have seen this before generic war side stories” that in too many cases make the film drag on too long. I agree with the middle-of-the-road Rotten Tomatoes rating of 74% for this movie and give this film a moderate recommendation.

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