Devotion (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Performance can be a powerful thing. Finding ways to cinematically depict the strength of someone’s character is not always something that comes naturally without feeling overly sentimental or even trite. Devotion focuses on a true story of friendship between naval officers during the early days of the Korean War. One being Black in an era where segregation and bigoted attitudes were still commonplace in America means working harder in the face of multiple forms of adversity. This film understands how to incorporate those hardships into a character-focused story that meshes well with the war film on display, complete with aerial battles to spark excitement. However, in a landscape that has changed in various ways, a film like Devotion was not heralded upon release in terms of box office in November 2022. However, this 4K release can ideally let some people in on what they missed in theaters.


(Note: Review originally published in 2022.)

The film focuses on Ensign Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors) and Lieutenant Tom Hudner (Glen Powell), who met at Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island. The year is 1949, and the shaky peace following WWII is on the verge of being upset. Hudner is not a man who judges one based on their skin color, even if he may not entirely understand the blindspots he may. However, that’s not enough to have Brown initially embrace him. The Ensign is introduced hurling racial insults at himself, thinking no one is around. The reason becomes apparent over time, but we know this isn’t a man who’s become an ace pilot over the years with ease. Of course, once Brown is able to fly with Hudner, let alone observe him in other moments, they form a fitting bond.

Director J.D. Dillard (Sleight, Sweetheart) makes a lot of smart choices here. The basics of this plot find the film functioning as an old-fashioned war movie, but it goes deeper, given who these characters are, along with some modern sensibilities regarding the best ways to utilize special effects. This is especially important, as the delays in the release of Top Gun: Maverick means many can’t help but match up the Tom Cruise blockbuster to Devotion. While the two films share a key actor and involve fighter pilots, it’s ultimately a shallow comparison.

While it’s one of the better examples of pure Summer escapism in recent years, Maverick is about the spectacle and what one star can do to make a difference. Devotion is a period film focusing on people who actually existed and what it means to have shown true valor. This is accomplished through aerial missions, sure, but that’s not the movie’s focus. It’s not attempting to compete with a huge studio film that can get actual fight jets captured on IMAX cameras (although this shouldn’t put down the efforts to deliver compelling flight sequences thanks to DP Erik Messerschmidt and the visual effects team). Instead, the film concentrates on its important friendship and Brown’s experiences.

Powell, who also serves as executive producer, is quite good here as Hudner, though he’s widely on hand as support. The film belongs to Majors, who easily elevates the film far past what lesser performers and filmmakers would deliver. There’s a quiet confidence in him as far as how he presents himself to others, regardless of how accepting they are of a Black officer. That said, Devotion allows us to see him at his most vulnerable. When he eventually lets Hudner and the audience in, whether or not the extent of his treatment is eye-opening to some, it’s still upsetting to hear what he was put through. And yet, Brown still became a pilot, one of the best in the sky, given what we see and how he’s regarded. But the film doesn’t stop there.

Brown’s race is not just a factor that comes up sometimes, yet the film does not suffer by making it a significant part of the conversation. Devotion isn’t relying on hokey messaging to give people the feels. Even as a stylized biographical war film, the attempt is made to derive interest from how a man like this functions at a time when he’s not accepted by all. This extends to portions set outside of time spent on base or aboard an aircraft carrier. We watch Brown interact with his wife (an effective Christina Jackson) and young daughter. There’s even a brief shore leave allowing Brown and the others to explore Cannes, France. This leads to an entertaining detour for the film, but similar stakes are still at play, given who these characters are.

Dillard’s point is to show what life was for Brown, a man in his early 20s who wanted to be able to fly and serve his country. And as much as Brown wanted to be recognized for his abilities, as opposed to being singled out for other reasons, it brings a dynamic to this film that is well worth exploring. Does that leave the outcome of certain scenes somewhat predictable anyway? I suppose, but what does it matter when there’s a proper amount of authority to witness in front of and behind the camera?

Making a movie like this means embracing certain traditions. This is a slower-paced war movie than some may expect when it comes to a film about fighter pilots, but it’s because it can afford to be. Devotion takes time to get to its excitement as it wants to show what a certain level of nobility can afford genuinely good characters. Everything that comes with that is added benefit, from the solid supporting work by Thomas Sadoski as the officers’ Lieutenant Commander to the moments of unique directorial experimentation, such as a couple of long takes focusing on the emotion in Majors’ face and an action sequence involving Powell, late in the film.

Devotion is honorable, of course, as that’s the least a film like this could do in celebrating real-life heroes. It’s also very well acted and uniquely made by the type of director that doesn’t always receive this sort of opportunity (it should be noted that Dillard is a Black Naval brat). Being a period war film may not allow Devotion to rely on the pure spectacle of entirely real aerial stunts, but it doesn’t have to. This is a film evaluating and celebrating the heroics of those treated differently yet didn’t worry about taking pride in their actions. They were more focused on giving in to what they were best at, which still managed to go down in history.


Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: Not surprisingly, this is a very good-looking presentation. Derived from 6K/8K sources and finished on a 4K Digital Intermediate, the Top Gun comparisons may only go so far in terms of the type of movie, but Paramount has done its job in providing proper home releases for their expensive aviation movies. For a film that has a sort of low-key approach to its story, there’s plenty to take in as far as the level of detail present to recreate this time period. The planes look great in action, emphasizing the pretty solid visual effects work. Costumes and other aspects of the film shine as well, with Dolby Vision adding an extra layer of excellence to all of this.

Depth: Many great moments abound, especially when framing the actors against the aircraft. Even contained scenes featuring groups in small spaces aboard an aircraft carrier do well to communicate the dimensionality of the film.

Black Levels: The film tries to mix a cool tone with some steely blue-ish moments, leading to a lot of shadow play and well-designed nighttime sequences. There’s no visible crushing, given all the extended scenes in the dark. The use of shadow and dark scenes look good on a continuous basis.

Color Reproduction: The color palette is active when it needs to be, allowing certain scenes to really pop – think of an extended bit focused in France. When focusing on the aviation side of things, the visuals get a bit more washed out to reflect the war going on, but still look great and continue to highlight elements such as the environments and explosions.

Flesh Tones: A strong use of close-ups allows for plenty of good representation in regards to the quality of flesh tones on display.

Noise/Artifacts: There’s nothing to note here, this is pretty fantastic transfer.



Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description

Subtitles: English SDH, Francais, Spanish

Dynamics: I’m a little surprised there’s not a 7.1 lossless track on here, but it matters little when the 5.1 track presented does everything that’s needed. This is a crystal clear audio presentation that manages to account for the loud and quieter moments as well as needed.

Height: Thanks to the level of scale involved in taking on a period drama with a decent amount of aerial action, there’s a lot to like about how this film can balance what’s being asked of it for a home presentation.

Low-Frequency Extension: The sounds of engines roaring allows for plenty of oomph for a woofer to handle. War action, in general, plays great in this regard.

Surround Sound Presentation: There’s plenty taking place in terms of the machinery and vehicles one can hear frequently, along with how the score and various other sound effects factor into this audio track. It’s all balanced properly, with the rear channels getting plenty to do.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is loud, clear, and crisp throughout.



There’s really not a lot here beyond a couple of above-average EPKs, which is a shame, as the technical merits of the film were worth exploring, let alone the true story behind this friendship and Brown’s journey. We get some good enough highlights in these featurettes, however, so it’s not a complete loss.

Features Include:

  • The Aviation of a Forgotten War (HD, 11:17) – A decent extra covering 1950s U.S. Naval aviation and some of the efforts taken to bring the aerial action to this film. Featuring interviews with some of the cast.
  • The Legacy of Jesse Brown (HD, 12:03) – A look a the life of Ensign Jesse Brown, featuring interviews with the cast and crew.
  • Digital HD Copy of the Film



Devotion is content with being an old-school war movie, and I’m pretty happy with how it plays out here. There are certainly modern sensibilities thanks to the story it is tackling, and having Jonathan Majors deliver great work (once again) does allow the film to shine brighter than it may have otherwise. As far as this 4K UHD release is concerned, there’s a lot to appreciate about the video and audio presentation, while the featurettes leave more to be desired. Still, this is a well-made and very respectable movie that deserves more attention.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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