The Final Countdown (1980) Review

finalcountdownDear Hollywood,

I know it’s not something you would normally ever consider doing, but I’d like to suggest – nominate, if you will – the film “The Final Countdown” – as a property ripe for a reboot or reimagination or whatever you’re calling it nowadays.

It tells the story of the USS Nimitz which, thanks to a freak electrical storm (cool laser effects!), finds itself transported back in time to the days just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. Directed by Don Taylor, it stars Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, James Farentino, Katherine Ross and Charles Durning. The interesting premise benefits enormously from the fact the film was made with the full cooperation of the US Navy and the production team make full use of it. It’s possible that only “Top Gun” has more gratuitous shots of fighter planes taking off, landing, flying, manoeuvring and generally moving around the deck of the aircraft carrier than “The Final Countdown”.

While the USS Nimitz is back in the past, the captain (Douglas) wrestles with the ethical ramifications of whether or not to use the Nimitz’ vast technical superiority to intervene, stop the Japanese fleet and change the course of the war. When they reluctantly come to the rescue of a sinking boat owned by s US Senator, they find themselves already involved in events

The cast are good and the effects are well realised for the time, with much of the action being film of real aircraft. There are a couple of decent skirmishes and a bit of a time-crossed love story thrown in for good measure and while it holds your attention, the overall impression is of a film where not a lot actually happens.

Hollywood, this is a concept that’s simply too good to not be re-explored. While the original is very worthy in its philosophical musings, a modern reboot could inject a hell of a lot more action into the mix and where the original has quite a passive approach to the time-storm, the reboot could have a scientist – maybe a sexy female scientist who has a romance with the first officer or something (man – this thing writes itself) – who is actively looking for a way to recreate the storm to get them home. Give this to Michael Bay (he’s probably keen to go back and change “Pearl Harbour”), and I guarantee you it’ll make millions. It might not be very good and will probably be too orange, but it’ll make millions. And for the sequel, you could have the scientist recreate the time-storm but – oh no! – it doesn’t send them forward in time, it sends them further back, to the time of the Spanish Armada or something. Boom! Franchise, yo. And then in the third one, they meet up with the USS Eldridge from “The Philadelphia Experiment” and together both vessels save the RMS Titanic, freeing the world of that Celine Dion song. Okay, so the third one might be straight to DVD, but still. Or maybe just do the whole thing on TV – it’d be like “Quantum Leap” but, you know, with an aircraft carrier!

So there you have it, Hollywood. Step away from the beloved classics, stop remaking films that were pretty bloody fantastic to begin with, and start looking at films like “The Final Countdown”: films which were competently made and moderately entertaining but only barely scratched the surface of their concepts. It’s a decent lazy Sunday afternoon movie but it could be amazing!

Yours sincerely,

The Craggus

6/10 Score 6

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