2022’s “Devotion” came and went with so little fanfare, most people probably don’t know it exists. That, in and of itself, is a catastrophe for a war movie with a $90 million budget that was at one point thought to be an Oscar contender.
In an alternate universe, this Korean War drama based on the real-life friendship of two naval officers — one white and one Black — could’ve been a commercial and critical hit. “Devotion” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and earned solid reviews, both from press and from the public. Had it been promoted more wisely, the movie could’ve glided to relevance and profitability on the winds of the year’s other big airplane flick, “Top Gun: Maverick.” The two patriotic, feel-good films even share a star in Glen Powell. Its other lead, Jonathan Majors, was a star on the rise.
“Devotion” dropped before Majors’ arrest would’ve caused it a scandal, but still never got off the runway. The film barely cleared $20 million in ticket sales and, after an auspicious start on the festival circuit, came up empty-handed during Oscar season, too.
So why did the “Top Gun” sequel take off while “Devotion” stayed grounded? The former was among the most anticipated releases of the year, having been delayed multiple times during the pandemic. It had name recognition, perhaps the most recognizable celebrity in the world, and a phenomenal trailer that practically guaranteed it would be a crowdpleaser. Comparatively, there was little to no hype for “Devotion,” whose leading men weren’t quite yet household names. One reddit user commented that it looked like the dollar bin version of “Top Gun: Maverick.” Another mistook it for a religious movie, based on its vague title.