As a documentary on the USS Nimitz, The Final Countdown is wonderful. As entertainment, however, it has the feeling of a telepic that strayed onto the big screen. The magnificent production values provided by setting the film on the world's largest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier can't transcend the predictable cleverness of a plot that will seem overly familiar to viewers raised on Twilight Zone reruns.

As a documentary on the USS Nimitz, The Final Countdown is wonderful. As entertainment, however, it has the feeling of a telepic that strayed onto the big screen. The magnificent production values provided by setting the film on the world’s largest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier can’t transcend the predictable cleverness of a plot that will seem overly familiar to viewers raised on Twilight Zone reruns.

The liberal sympathies typical of the work of Kirk Douglas are evident in his characterization of the ship’s commander as a man whose sense of military honor will not allow him to take the opportunity provided him by a mysterious storm – his ship and crew find themselves transported back in time to 6 December 1941, between Pearl Harbor and the Japanese fleet heading to destroy the American naval base and send the US into World War II.

The philosophical issues raised by the film hardly bear much examination, because the patchwork screenplay by two pairs of writers paints each character in too schematic a fashion. Martin Sheen has much more to work with than Douglas, who seems uncharacteristically subdued.

The Final Countdown

Production

Bryna/United Artists. Director Don Taylor; Producer Peter Vincent Douglas; Screenplay David Ambrose, Gerry Davis, Thomas Hunter, Peter Powell; Camera Victor J. Kemper; Editor Robert K. Lambert; Music John Scott; Art Director Fernando Carrere

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1980. Running time: 103 MIN.

With

Kirk Douglas Martin Sheen Katharine Ross James Farentino Ron O'Neal Charles Durning
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