Glen Powell’s starring role in Devotion ultimately makes his other 2022 movie, Top Gun: Maverick, even better in retrospect. Much like the Tom Cruise vehicle, Devotion focuses on elite naval fighter pilots, albeit during a different era of conflict. Although the movie has generally received positive reviews from critics and audiences, the similar subject matter makes comparisons to Top Gun: Maverick all but inevitable. As such, Devotion is in the unfortunate situation of being stuck in the shadow of one the year’s most impressive movies.
As indicated by its solid reviews (standing on 80% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing), Devotion does an admirable job of recreating naval and aerial combat during the Korean War. However, both due to the prominence of actor Glen Powell and its evocation of similar settings and themes, the movie has the unfortunate quality of appearing, on the surface, like a Top Gun: Maverick-lite. Although the effects are generally well-realized and the story offers a reasonably compelling character study, the $90 million movie simply cannot compete with the $170 million, record-breaking behemoth that is the Top Gun sequel. Ironically, the fact that the two films contain similar subject matter and share one prominent actor both hinders Devotion and highlights the multiple smaller ways that Top Gun: Maverick became such an overwhelming success, beyond the obvious spectacular set-pieces. It’s unfortunate for Devotion, but having one middling aviation movie come out in the same year as another genuinely exceptional one just demonstrates what an achievement Top Gun: Maverick really was.
Who Does Glen Powell Play In Devotion?
Having played the initially antagonistic, yet ultimately redeemable Hangman in Top Gun 2, Glen Powell returns to the skies in Devotion as real-life naval officer Tom Hudner. As relayed in the biographical war movie Devotion, Hudner received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in attempting to save the life of his wingman Jesse Brown – played in the movie by Ant-Man 3 and Loki star Jonathan Majors. Hudner’s heroics involved deliberately crash-landing his own plane in order to help Brown after his aircraft was hit by fire from Chinese troops in December 1950. Despite Hudner’s best efforts, Brown sadly lost his life, with Hudner forced to abandon the body while contending with his own injuries.
Even though Hudner was tragically unsuccessful in saving his friend, his heroism was immediately recognized. Besides winning the Medal of Honor in 1951 from President Harry Truman, Hudner also gave his name to the currently active ship the USS Thomas Hudner. Given his dramatic and daring actions, it is unsurprising that Hudner has become the subject of the inspirational real-life war movie Devotion.
Devotion Proves Just How Special Top Gun: Maverick Was
As evidenced by the critical response to the movie, Devotion is by no means a failure. Nevertheless, in both its content and execution, the movie just goes to show what a remarkable achievement Top Gun: Maverick really was. In addition to creating a largely new cast of relatable characters to naturally incorporate into a legacy franchise, the Joseph Kosinski movie utilized some of the most memorable and incredible special effects ever put to screen, placing audiences directly in the cockpit with combat aces. In many ways, this approach has redefined the bar for any movie featuring aerial combat.
As a result, the fact the Devotion’s own aerial sequences cannot come close is less a comment on the Korean War movie, and more a testament to just how well-realized Top Gun: Maverick’s action sequences really were. These inevitable comparisons are only compounded by the presence of Glen Powell, whose dual roles almost demand that viewers search for further similarities. While Devotion is a worthy movie in its own right, its release right alongside one of the most visually innovative and awe-inspiring movies ever is, in hindsight, perhaps an unfortunate coincidence.