Thursday, May 27, 2021

#2,574. The Final Countdown (1980) - The Films of Kirk Douglas


What a cool premise for a movie!

While on maneuvers in the Pacific, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Nimitz is pulled into a time portal that whisks it 40- years into the past, to December 6, 1941, a day before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Once they’ve accepted what’s happened, the crew of the Nimitz: Captain Yelland (Kirk Douglas), Air Wing Commander Owens (James Farentino), Commander Thurman (Ron O’Neal), and civilian Warren Lasky (Martin Sheen), an observer for the Department of Defense, are faced with a dilemma. Do they take advantage of their superior firepower to annihilate the approaching Japanese fleet and save Pearl Harbor, or do they sit back and do nothing, allowing the attack to play out as written in the history books?

Like I said, it’s a great premise, and as long as you don’t spend a lot of time pondering the science of it all, 1980’s The Final Countdown is sure to bring a smile to your face.

Shot aboard the actual U.S..S. Nimitz with the full co-operation of the United States Navy, The Final Countdown gets points for its depiction of life aboard an aircraft carrier. An early scene in which a malfunctioning plane comes in for a landing is as fascinating as it is exciting.

And while other time travel movies might debate the ramifications of disrupting the course of history, The Final Countdown doesn’t let such worries get in the way of a good time. At one point, a couple of 1980’s jets battle it out with ‘40s-era Japanese scout planes, and Commander Owens leads a rescue mission to save Senator Samuel Chapman (Charles Durning) and his advisor Laurel Scott (Katharine Ross) when their yacht is attacked (history had reported that Senator Chapman was lost at sea prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor).

The Final Countdown is in no way flawless; the crew of the Nimitz is a little too quick to accept their leap through time, and a twist at the end, involving a mysterious millionaire in a limo, is easily figured out well before the big reveal. But as sci-fi / war mash-ups go, The Final Countdown delivers enough on both fronts to keep you entertained.
Rating: 7 out of 10

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