It’s often said that “they just don’t make ‘em like they used to anymore.”

This is especially true when it comes to the world of filmmaking, where studios are consolidating the types of movies they produce in order to maximize profit margins.

Whether it’s due to analytics or the whim of a finicky studio head, certain types of films just aren’t being greenlit or given the support that they once did.

For example, a war drama based on a true story released over the Thanksgiving weekend should have easily played in 3,000+ theaters across the country for the next six weeks. And yet, an incredibly unassuming, patriotic film like director J.D. Dillard’s latest feature has largely flown under the radar.

Devotion, led by burgeoning Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell, tells the story of Ensign Jesse Brown, the first African American naval aviator who flew combat missions during the early moments of the Korean War alongside his Caucasian wingman.

A blend of popular, successful films like Top Gun: Maverick and Green Book, there’s no reason why Devotion isn’t garnering much wider acclaim and attention from audiences this holiday season.

The film’s two lead actors have terrific chemistry opposite one another and are equally transfixing on their own.

Majors’ relatively subdued performance as Brown underscores just how talented of a character actor he’s been since his breakout turn in The Last Black Man in San Francisco.

He projects a quiet meekness somewhat explained away by Brown’s desire to blend in and maintain his status within the Navy and yet there’s a hidden warmth to the character, especially in moments opposite Christina Jackson as Brown’s wife Daisy that are personal and touching.

Taking somewhat of a page out of his Top Gun: Maverick co-star Tom Cruise’s book, Powell has a stoicism about him that highlights his Tom Hudner’s sense of duty and patriotism, but there isn’t a rigidity to the character. Powell showcases the ability to harness emotion when needed yet maintains military composure.

The middling screenplay from writers Jake Crane and Jonathan Stewart – adapting from the book by Adam Makos – does both leads somewhat of a disservice in that there’s really not much deep conversation nor major character development for either lead. 

It’s as if both are friends through mutual admiration and respect in short order and their differences, while on the surface seem major due to racial politics of the era, are shown to be incredibly minor which leaves both actors little to play with.

This is also true of the length of the middle section of Devotion, which languishes during a 15-plus minute sequence during the aviators’ shore leave and interaction with a famous film star in Cannes that drags down the overall pace of the film.

What makes Devotion an emotional and intense experience comes in the film’s final act where audiences see the wingmen fly several combat missions in the heart of Korea.

Filmed as practically as possible with period aircraft under the supervision of Top Gun: Maverick aerial stunt coordinator Kevin LaRosa, the action sequences are engaging to the point of leaving viewers on the edge of their seats, while not overwrought and in keeping with combat tactics of the era.

Dillard is well adept at making the transition from drama to action feel smooth and cohesive within the narrative and the cinematography from Erik Messerschmidt is solid throughout while not being obstructive to the acting work at play.

A solid, unspectacular period war biopic drama criminally underseen this holiday season, Devotion is a film well worth moviegoers taking the time to seek out with friends and family.

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