From 1950-1953 America was engaged in the Korean War conflict, assisting South Korea in defending itself. During that conflict, a friendship built between Naval Officers Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors; Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania) and Tom Hudner (Glen Powell; Top Gun: Maverick) turned into a lifelong commitment for Hudner. Based on a true story chronicled in Adam Makos' book, the film Devotion premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2022 and was released in theaters on November 23, 2022. Just over three months later, the film is being released in 4K and on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD.
Naval Aviator Lieutenant Tom Hudner arrived at fighter squadron 32 and met Ensign Jesse Brown, the only black member of the unit. Of course, being black in 1950 meant putting up with discrimination and racism and Brown dealt with all of that and more. Guarded, for good reason, Brown eventually relaxed and he and Hudner became friends, forming a bond with and mutual respect for one another. When the Korean War escalated squadron 32 went into action bombing North Korean bridges and assisting ground troops in fighting off the enemy. On one such run, Brown's aircraft crash-landed and Hudner could see Brown was alive but unable to get out of his plane that was on fire. Landing nearby, Hudner put out the fire but could free Brown, who died while trying to be freed. With enemy troops getting closer, Hudner was forced to leave Brown's body where it likely remains to this day.
Makos' book made it to Powell who was ready to sign on the dotted line immediately. He also flew to the Northeast to meet Tom Hudner, whose home displays memorabilia and photos of Jesse Brown. While he does a very good job, Powell needs to be careful or he will get typecast as an aviator. He previously portrayed Neil Armstrong in Hidden Figures and more recently, Hangman in Top Gun: Maverick. Majors has exploded on the Hollywood scene, appearing in at least four feature films in the last two years. He is quickly making a name for himself as an actor and his talent is evident as we watch him portray a real-life hero. Powell and Majors bring these real heroes to life and offer true and sometimes guttural emotions, especially Majors. Other notable cast members include Thomas Sadoski (The Newsroom) and Joe Jonas (Camp Rock).
Presented in Dolby Vision with a 2160p resolution, the video quality of the 4K version of the movie is a mixed blessing. The visuals are stunning, especially when overview shots are breathtaking. Conversely, some scenes are obviously CGI generated which can be somewhat obvious because of the excellent quality. Interestingly, the audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, not Dolby Atmos. It would seem logical that with the Dolby Vision format, the audio would be paired. However, the 5.1 version is very strong with the ambient noises of gunfire, aircrafts, and ocean waves enveloping the viewer and maximizing the whole experience. Sadly the extras included in the combo pack are severely lacking. There are only two features totaling approximately 25 minutes. Since this film is based on a true story, there could have been so many other features included in this set. The two extras are The Aviation of a Forgotten War and The Legacy of Jesse Brown.
Devotion isn't an explosive film and Hudner and Brown's story isn't exactly unique. In fact, that is what makes it so watchable. Many veterans can relate to their story and non-military viewers can sympathize with Hudner's emotional struggle having left his friend in enemy territory. Devotion is a good representation of the Korean War, racism in the military and the human emotions service members deal with regularly and a strong adaptation of the novel.