Stars: Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Katharine Ross, James Farentino, Ron O'Neal
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 103 minutes
With a tantalizing "what-if?" scenario and a respectable cast of Hollywood veterans, The Final Countdown plays like a grand-scale episode of The Twilight Zone. It's really no more than that, and time-travel movies have grown far more sophisticated since this popular 1980 release, but there's still some life remaining in the movie's basic premise: What if a modern-era Navy aircraft carrier--in this case the real-life nuclear-powered U.S.S. Nimitz--was caught in an anomalous storm and thrust 40 years backwards in time to the eve of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor? Will the ship's commander (Kirk Douglas) interfere with history? Will the visiting systems analyst (Martin Sheen) convince him not to? Will a rescued senator from 1941 (Charles Durning) play an unexpected role in the future of American politics? Veteran TV director Don Taylor doesn't do much with the ideas posed by this potentially intriguing plot; he seems more interested in satisfying aviation buffs with loving footage of F-14 "Jolly Roger" fighter jets, made possible by the Navy's generous cooperation. That makes The Final Countdown a better Navy film than a full-fledged time-travel fantasy, but there's a nice little twist at the end, and the plot holes are easy to ignore. James Cameron would've done it better, but this popcorn thriller makes an enjoyable double-bill with The Philadelphia Experiment. --Jeff Shannon
This is the captain, I am speaking to every man aboard this ship. In the past few hours many things have happened; rumors of nuclear attacks and a third world war are totally untrue. We have no reason to believe that any aggression has been taken against our homes our families. I believe what we stumbled across is not man-made but a phenomena of nature, one that can't be explained. This phenomena is the storm in which the Nimitz went through less than 18 hours ago, the storm has had some effect on time as we know it, it created a portal, a door into another era. Today is December 7, 1941... I'm sure we are all aware of the significance of this date in this place in history. We are going to fight a battle that was lost before most of you were born. This time, with God's help, its going to be different... Good Luck.
This is, uh, Senator Samuel S. Chapman, of the United States Senate onboard the aircraft carrier Nimitz. Captain Yelland is here with me.
I repeat. I am Senator Samuel S. Chapman onboard the U.S.S. Nimitz.
Now listen here, sir!
How dare you talk to me that way!