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Final Countdown, The

Film (1980). Bryna Company/United Artists. Directed by Don Taylor. Written by David Ambrose, Gerry Davis, Thomas Hunter, Peter Powell, based on a story by Hunter, Powell, Ambrose. Cast includes Kirk Douglas, Charles Durning, James Farentino, Katharine Ross and Martin Sheen. 105 minutes. Colour.

The Nimitz, a (real) aircraft carrier on manoeuvres off Hawaii in 1980, is caught in a strange storm which turns out to be a time-warp (see Timeslip). The vessel is deposited in the same spot in 1941, just before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Observed by visiting reporter Warren Lasky (Sheen), Captain Yelland (Douglas) and his officers work out what has happened, and are immediately faced with two dilemmas. Less importantly, they have rescued a yacht containing Senator Samuel Chapman (Durning), whose disappearance in the "real" future made President Roosevelt's winning a third term almost inevitable; but he is killed by accident, obviating the risk that his survival will affect the election. More vitally, after Japanese planes have been detected en route to Pearl Harbor, Yelland and his colleagues must decide whether or not to take advantage of the Jonbar Point on offer and pre-emptively shoot down the invading force that is due shortly to bomb the US naval base and thus bring America into World War Two against Japan. But a second time-warp returns the Nimitz to 1980 before history can be changed. The film dissipates the interesting dilemmas posited through diversionary action scenes; the Nimitz itself, which the US Navy had allowed the production company (Kirk Douglas and family) to use, is rather wasted. The novelization is The Final Countdown (1980) by Martin Caidin. [PN/JC]


Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 21:17 pm on 15 August 2022.