Glen Powell, a rising star of 2022 Top Gun: Maverickreturns to the skies in the upcoming biographical war drama Devotion. After reading Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice By Adam Makos, the inspiration behind the film, Powell set out to bring this epic war story to the big screen.
In an interview with entertainment weeklyPowell explained why the Adam Makos novelization inspired him.
“A couple of different people mentioned the book. I ended up going fishing with my family and everyone was reading Devotion. My uncle had read it, my cousins were reading it, my dad was about to read it and I picked it up. We were able to talk about this story, and what it meant, and the fact that this was a war that no one knew about, a relationship that no one knew about.”
The past decade has seen many “untold stories” featured on a major platform, including hidden figures, the imitation game, only mercy, and more. There is a definite effort to bring the untold story of Devotion forward, but it’s important to recognize that this story was “untold” for more than one reason. The real story behind Devotion took place in the Korean War. Additionally, the real-life subjects of the story, Thomas Hudner and Jesse Brown, share a list of historical “firsts” in military history, specifically within the context of American civil rights. This era, these themes, and these military men are neglected in historical accounts.
For many reasons, Hudner and Brown’s story would have gone under the radar had it not been for Adam Makos’ novelization, Glen Powell’s determination, and JD Dillard’s direction. Here’s what you need to know about the upcoming movie.
Devotion: The Plot
The official synopsis is as follows:
An aerial warfare epic based on the best-selling book of the same name, Devotion tells the harrowing true story of two elite US Navy fighter pilots during the Korean War. would become the Navy’s most celebrated flanks”.
Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors) and Tom Hudner (Glen Powell) are the two military men at the heart of the film. Jesse Brown was the first African-American aviator to graduate from the Navy’s basic flight training program. Adam Makos’s book details how Brown faced racism, bigotry, and significant personal hardship in his attempts to serve the United States of America in the Korean War. Tom Hudner became Jesse Brown’s ally, friend, and pseudo-brother during their joint enlistment.
Between the two of them, the naval officers earned a Distinguished Flying Cross, a Purple Heart, a National Defense Service Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, an Airman Medal, and many, many other awards and decorations. Notably, Hudner was the only naval aviator to receive a Medal of Honor during the Korean War.
His awards and the many chronicles of his service speak of the magnitude of his actions in battle. Devotion it is meant to tell a story not yet seen on film, and shows bravery, sacrifice, activism, and above all, brotherhood.
Devotion: The Cast
The film stars Jonathan Majors. (Loki, Lovecraft Country, When We Rise), Glen Powell (Top Gun: Maverick, hidden figures), Joe Jonas (Camp Rock, fat live!)Christina Jackson (The House of Night, Outsiders, Deception)Nick Hargrove (Counterpart, Charmed)Spencer Neville (Ozarks, Tunde)and Thomas Sadoski (Newsroom, John Wick, Life in Pieces).
The film is written by Jake Crane. (Under) and Jonathan A. H. Stewart (The Axmann Conspiracy, Clean). It is directed by JD Dillard. (Game, baby). Glen Powell is attached as executive producer along with JD Dillard, Molly Smith, Rachel Smith, Thad Luckinbill and Trent Luckinbill.
The film premieres on September 12, 2022 at the 2022 Toronto Film Festival before opening in full on November 23, 2022.
The historical accuracy of the film
The film’s production had a significant emphasis on both prop realism and period accuracy. JD Dillard spoke to Entertainment Weekly about his intention to shoot as much aerial footage as possible while maintaining a high level of historical truth.
“When I met the producers and told them we had to [shoot] On camera, the first problem is, well, where do planes come from? Finding 80-year-old planes that are still working, that can withstand the kind of stress we’re going to put them through was certainly a chore, but at the end of the day we had a hangar full of them. It adds a level of realism by placing our camera ten feet from these flying museums and truly focusing on them against the beautiful backdrop of clouds at 10,000 feet.”
In addition to the struggle to find working period-specific aircraft, filming on location proved to be a challenge. The film is set during the Korean War and in the Pacific War Theatre, but much of the filming took place in Georgia. With a little creative filmmaking, the southern landscape doubled as Korea, Rhode Island, China, and more. Even when Devotion was filmed “on location”, those locations were often creative doubles of a fictional setting. For example, the mountains in Washington state doubled as the border between China and Korea for the film’s setting.
Despite the obstacles, JD Dillard has demonstrated an effort to maintain as much historical accuracy as possible. For him, this effort is not only due to his hobby as a director and producer. Dillard’s father, like the film’s protagonist Jesse Brown, was also an African-American naval pilot. In an interview with Deadline, Dillard explained how his father continued the filmmaker’s fascination with war stories:
“On top of that, as I was reading the script, on a personal level, I saw an opportunity to also tell my father’s story: even though he and Jesse were separated for 40 years, the parallels were amazing. To have a lifetime of my father giving me elbows in the ribs while watching aviation movies and telling myself, ‘that’s not what it looks like, that’s not what they say, that’s not what they do’ I’ve never had a consultant that I could call so easily in the middle of the reading the script and asking him, ‘By the way, can you give me more information about this or that detail?