Devotion

Where I Watched it: Paramount Plus

English Audio Description?: Yes

Perhaps, if I had seen Top Gun Maverick in theatres the day it was released, and allowed myself some gigantic amount of time, or at least the maximum amount before watching Devotion, I might have found something worthwhile in this movie. I hate coming in here and saying that someone’s real life, their true story is boring. But, Devotion is boring. It just is. I don’t think it’s the fault of those who lived a life so the tale could be told, it’s just unfortunate timing.

when you follow Top Gun maverick, and your film is very similar in nature, also featuring young Air Force pilots on missions, one thing is very much not like the other. Maverick is one of the best packaged together films in years. Star power, emotional connection, pacing, score, cinematography, and an understanding of its films beats, it’s audience’s timing, and what is actually important in the film. Devotion is just poorly directed and conceived. Certainly, it’s not the cast, because Glen Powell is in both films. He has mastered the art of looking like he can fly a plane. But also, Jonathan Majors stars, and he’s a solid actor. He’s given some scenes where I scratched my head at, being that this is essentially a biopic, and it’s hard to know what he said or did in scenes where he was by himself. Example would be the world’s worst pep talk where he seems to break himself down and remind himself of all the bad things that have ever been said to him. He’s totally alone in that scene. Did it really happen, or did JD Dillard think that looked cool?

He probably should have at least seen Top Gun Maverick, or literally any war film. or any film with Air Force pilots. or planes. Even the film Planes. Nothing really happens for the first hour. That’s a problem. I don’t know why at some point we felt like every single film needed to be 2+ hours when statistics keep suggesting people are watching shorter and shorter content. I don’t mind a long film that works. All Quiet On The Western Front was long, and it needed that length. The Batman was long as hell, but it made good use of that time. Devotion just bumbles around for an hour before ever sending anyone into a situation of action or danger.

It feels like a war movie made for the Hallmark channel, like it’s trying to take some clean approach, instead of embracing the horrors of war. It’s more about the relationship between these two men, and how a black pilot and a white pilot became friends…. During the Korean War.

The audio description here really helps focus in on the moments where Majors tries to make the film remotely interesting by emoting. Powell is mostly resigned to having been told that for the first time, he’s not the snarky comic relief. He’s the straight guy here. It’s Majors who gets to flex. And I’m not begrudging either of these actors, or the random Jonas brother in the ensemble. The acting is fine. The acting would have been fine in a film that was 45 minutes shorter, or directed by someone who was ready to send his audience into the danger zone. Devotion just has the unfortunate task of living in the same world as Top Gun Maverick,a film that is actually slightly longer, but is such a fantastic feat. JD Dillard just made something slightly less than mediocre.

Final Grade: C-

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