The Final Countdown

Year: 1980

Production: Bryna Company

Director: Don Taylor

Starring: Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Katharine Ross, James Farentino, Ron O'Neil, Charles Durning

Screenwriter: David Ambrose, Gerry Davis, Thomas Hunter, Peter Powell

103 minutes; Color


An opportunity for Douglas to furrow his brow over the ethics of tampering with a subject as weighty as history itself, this film for his own production company bears all the hallmarks of an overgrown tele-feature. The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz is maneuvering in Pacific waters under Douglas' command, with observer Sheen aboard, when it is enveloped in a bizarre storm and emerges intact in 1941, with all reconnaissance evidence pointing to the imminent cataclysm of Pearl Harbor. To intervene - or not to intervene - in the course of events becomes the question on everyone's mind, with the doomed politician Durning determined to cheat his ordained fate, but everyone else mulling the dilemma as if it were Hamlet's own. The script's let-out clauses are legion, however, and, in a very belated bit of opportunist mystification, Farentino's character is suggested as some sort of deus ex machina after a second time-warp has returned the USS Nimitz to the present day and obviated the need for decision making. Countdowns have their own tensions, but in this one director Taylor merely goes through motions.

The Overlook Film Encyclopedia - Science Fiction

Back to the List