‘Devotion’ Tells Inspiring Story of First African-American Naval Aviator
By: Russ Matthews
Jonathan Majors is the man of the hour. This relatively unknown actor has found himself in some of the biggest franchises in cinematic history.
He is garnering praise from around the industry. Audiences and critics took notice of his performance in The Last Black Man in San Francisco. More recently, he got his most recognised role as He Who Remains in the Loki series on Disney+. From there he is now about to make his movie into the MCU in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Creed III, but before these releases he fronts the Korean War drama, Devotion.
Majors take on the role of Jesse Brown, the first African-American aviator to complete the U.S. Navy’s basic flight training program and would go on to be a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross. His story was documented in Adam Makos’ book, Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice, which became the basis for the film. A chronicle of the transitional years after World War II that led the United States to build its naval superiority and establish the Naval pilots as some of the world’s best. Ensign Brown was stationed at the Naval Station Newport Rhode Island and here is where he was partnered with Tom Hudner (Glen Powell) as his wingman. As the two men navigate the challenges of an integrated Navy, they grow to trust one another as they are dispatched to Korea for the recent invasion by China.
Much of Jesse Brown’s story echoes the travails of the African-American situation in the 1950s military. Yet, J. D. Dillard’s film captures this man’s humanity and how most of the pilots in his squadron desired for him to succeed in his groundbreaking role in history. This screenplay shows the value that this man placed on his family and displays the passion he had for flying. Even though he struggled to trust many other officers in his squad, his eventual friendship with Lieutenant Hudner develops into a centrepiece of this film.
Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell deliver solid performances and capture the relationship these two men had in the Navy. Along with a beautiful work by Christina Jackson as Jesse Brown’s wife, Daisy, these three managed to capture the heart of the biographical tale. Even though it takes some time to develop the background before the Korean conflict, this does not diminish the story’s strength. Devotion may not have the action of Top Gun: Maverick, but it methodically unpacks a fascinating portion of history with discovering.
REEL DIALOGUE: What Does Loyalty Mean to Us?
Loyalty is both fascinating and confusing, it is defined as being faithful to something. People will put their money, careers and lives on the line for the sake of loyalty to family, friends or countries. In Devotion, viewers are shown how important trust and loyalty are within the ranks of the military. Some may ask, why do we choose to be loyal or faithful to someone else?
It is rooted in wanting to place an implicit trust in the person we put our faith in and knowing that this loyalty will be reciprocated. The Bible plies a more profound meaning on the idea of loyalty. What can be seen is that God is the only one completely faithful. He is faithful even when his followers are faithless. The thing to consider is that with mankind, loyalty can be fleeting, but with God we can find absolute loyalty and someone true to their word.
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.
All images: Movie stills
About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.