The Final Countdown (1980)



We’re huge fans of the old 1960s sci-fi series The Time Tunnel and The Final Countdown at times feels like an extended episode of Irwen Allen’s TV classic. It’s in 3D too which should make it even more exciting.

The plot sees Warren Lasky (Martin Sheen) assessing the performance of the crew on a modern aircraft carrier (the USS Nimitz) just before it finds its way into a spooky electrical storm that ends up being a time portal back to December 6th, 1941. Which just happens to be the day before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. And guess where they are!

You may have worked it out, but the crew led by Captain Yelland (the permanently ancient Kirk Douglas) take a while to catch on and it’s only when they observe two vintage Japanese fighter planes take out a civilian yacht that they realise what has happened. This all takes quite a bit of screen time with what feels like an hour of build up but one of the crew, Commander Owens happens to be an expert on naval history and starts to figure out the signs especially when a fresh recon photo comes back looking exactly like the one he has in his history books.


Once they are freed by the truth, the movie gets into more interesting territory as Lasky starts engaging the Captain in a discussion about whether or not they should even interfere with the past. The Captain isn’t too interested in that though and vows to protect US soil, no matter what year it is. However, his plans get scuppered when a Japanese POW on the Nimitz gets his hands on a rifle and a senator they rescue starts to go a bit crazy with all the time-travel bullshit he’s hearing. This all leads to him dying and Commander Owens, and Laurel (token love interest) getting stuck on a small island.


With even more time sunk into the plot, the Captain starts manoeuvring the Nimitz into position and sends his powerful modern fighter jets up into the sky to fuck up the whole Japanese fleet but then the storm/portal turns up again and chases after them sucking them back to 1980 just before the Pearl Harbor kicks off again.

finalcount3Which of course makes you wonder what the point of it all is. And the answer is that there is no point. Commander Owens and Laurel show up in 1980 to pick up Lasky. They’re old and married at this point which I guess is quite clever (especially as you realise the recon photo from before did become part of history) but it’s not really enough to hang an entire film on.

Add to that the utterly lame 3D transfer which never has any pop to it and you’re left with a film that had a lot of promise but ultimately delivered very little. Not a classic then but the decent cast are worth checking out perhaps and military nerds will love all the footage of flying and floating death machines. Everyone else should just stick with The Time Tunnel.

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