Naval pilots’ flying skills, friendship tested in ‘Devotion’

“Devotion” is is the feature film adaptation of the book of the same name about the friendship between U.S. Naval officers Jesse Brown and Tom Hudner during the Korean War. The biographical drama stars Jonathan Majors as Brown, a Black man, and Glen Powell as Hudner.

"Devotion" movie poster
"Devotion" stars Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell as a pair of elite U.S. Navy fighter pilots whose friendship is tested during the Korean War. The reality-based film is playing at Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter and Sunset Cinema in Jenkins.
Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch
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BAXTER— As a reporter, I believe everyone has a story to tell. It also may explain my interest in “Devotion,” a new release that tugs at the heartstrings while taking aim at the enemy.

The new biographical film playing at Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter and Sunset Cinema in Jenkins centers on the friendship between real-life Naval fighter pilots during the Korean War.

Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell co-star as Ensign Jesse Brown and Lt. Tom Hudner, respectively, whose ever-evolving relationship gets off to a rocky start.

Brown, who is Black, and Hudner — with his matinee idol good looks and aura of white privilege — navigate more than just the airspace above but also work together in life-and-death situations involving trust in a time before the civil rights movement.

The film is based on the 2015 book “Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship and Sacrifice” by Adam Makos about the comradeship between real-life naval officers Brown and Hudner during the Korean War.


Moviegoers may remember Majors from the critically acclaimed HBO television series “Lovecraft Country” from 2020, while Powell was recently seen flying with Tom Cruise in the blockbuster sequel “Top Gun: Maverick.”

Majors portrays Brown with restraint and righteous indignation but also with explosive anger at those who seek to belittle, ridicule and marginalize his notable skills as an elite fighter pilot.

Powell also seems convincing in the feature film adaption as a young man attempting to find his role in a country that has changed when it emerged from World War II not too long ago.

Frank Lee
Frank Lee

Their friendship may seem like a foregone conclusion to some. But it is the journey and not the destination wherein lies the interest and so the picture takes its time to establish their bond.

Scenes of racism are depicted on the big screen as Brown shoulders the weight and responsibility of being the first Black Naval pilot and a role model to others of his race during the film, which runs a little over two hours long and is rated PG-13.

Among the other fighter pilots is Marty Goode, who is played by Joe Jonas, of the pop-rock band the Jonas Brothers. Younger sibling Nick Jonas has also acted in “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and “Midway,” about the World War II Battle of Midway.

“Living” is a new drama starring English actor Bill Nighy a veteran civil servant who receives a terminal diagnosis from his doctor and decides to live it up with the help of a plucky young woman.

“Devotion” was distributed by Sony Pictures and puts a spotlight on America’s “Forgotten War,” as the film notes, with the heroism, bravery, courage and grit of military servicemen who fought — and died — during the Korean War on full display for audiences to see.

The Korean War was fought between North Korea and South Korea from 1950 to 1953. An estimated three million people died in the Korean War, most of whom were civilians, which made it arguably the deadliest conflict of the Cold War era


Much like the aerial combat scenes in “Top Gun: Maverick,” the dogfights are harrowing and intense, which is perhaps no wonder given that aerial stunt coordinator Kevin LaRosa, who created the flight sequences for “Top Gun: Maverick,” was also involved in “Devotion.”

The motion picture’s title “Devotion” could refer to the dedication of American servicemen during the war or the unbreakable bond between Brown and Hudner, or both. In any case, the movie rises above its prerequisite special effects to become a moving drama about true friendship.

“Devotion” currently holds a 79% approval rating among critics and a 93% approval rating among more audiences at Rotten Tomatoes, a review-aggregation website for film and television.

The critics’ consensus from the critics at “Honoring real-life history while delivering impactful drama, ‘Devotion’ is a straightforward biopic elevated by standout performances from a talented cast."

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at . Follow him on Twitter at .

I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write articles for the Wadena Pioneer Journal weekly newspaper owned by Forum Communications Co.
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