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This based-on-a-true-story aviation drama fittingly doesn't try to re-invent the wheel, but it should have managed a more crowdpleasing end result than what's there on the screen.

Racism is bad. Wartime aviation is dangerous. And heroes are made, not born. Those are just some of the truisms that are sprinkled throughout Devotion with the straightest of face. Still, there is something to be said for this old-fashioned approach.

One could even say that Devotion has the look and feel of a Clint Eastwood picture. Every scene is carefully staged, conveys a clear line of thought and builds up a predictable but well-oiled narrative. Even in the arial battles - of which there are less than you might hope for - a spartan tautness trumps visual showboating.

The movie also profits from fine interplay between leads Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell. Majors is magnetic as usual, even if you do sense he's riffing on the same beats he usually does, while Powell gets much more nuance to work with here than he did as the brash, cocky pilot in Top Gun: Maverick.

However, Devotion never soars to the heights its true-story origins hint at. The picture includes detours that another editor would have trimmed down considerably, is never quite sure what message it tries to convey and contains a third act that simply doesn't deliver emotionally.

You'll still have a good time watching the film, trust me. Yet there is nothing in Devotion that will have you enthusiastically recommending the movie to friends and colleagues.

release: 2022

director: J.D. Dillard

starring: Jonathan Majors, Glen Powell, Thomas Sadoski, Christina Jackson


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