Starring: Jonathan Majors, Glen Powell, Thomas Sadoski, Christina Jackson, and Joe Jonas
Director: J.D. Dillard
Other than being bland and formulaic, not to mention that Maverick definitely stole some of its thunder (Glen Powell being in both doesn’t help), there isn’t anything inherently wrong with Devotion, but there isn’t anything particularly remarkable about it either. The emotional beats elicit little feeling in the viewer, while the dogfight scenes don’t generate many thrills. The acting is fine, even if the characters are fairly standard archetypes, but the film lacks the gravitas that this true story deserves. And I get the story is what it is, but the ending just doesn’t hit all that hard. It’s only slightly better than Flyboys.
One has to think Devotion would have been far better received had it come out in 2021. As it stands, it’s a film that pales in comparison to Maverick in virtually every way. That doesn’t make it a bad film, though. Devotion takes some time to find its footing, but once it does, it settles into a nice story of friendship. Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell (who is much more subdued than in Maverick) carry the weight of the story admirably, while the visuals are still nothing to scoff at. So, sure, Devotion can’t match up to Maverick, but that’s not really its fault.
Devotion, or as I like to call it, Mid Gun, is extremely average. Glen Powell and Jonathan Majors both make for great leads, and it’s well shot, especially the aerial sequences; however, from a story standpoint, it’s nothing groundbreaking and it’s not very engaging. It’s a great true story that truly deserves to be told, but it feels like it’s missing a backbone. And I must address the elephant in the room, but coming out months after Maverick does it no favours whatsoever. It makes the movie’s spinelessness even more apparent.
As war films go, Devotion rides the line about as close to center as one can get while still having a little something more to offer. Even with some awkward pacing and a borderline average sense of stakes, the film still boasts terrific performances from Glen Powell and Jonathan Majors, whose on-screen chemistry is what gives the movie its much-needed verve when it slows down. Not everything works to that level, though, and as good as the action sequences often are, they’re too short to make much of an impact. That said, this one is worth a watch.
This film was reviewed by Nick, Adriano, and Quentin as part of Bitesize Breakdown's coverage of the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.