1980s The Final Countdown (1980)

Published on September 22nd, 2008 | by Chris


The Final Countdown (1980)

Reviewed by:
On September 22, 2008
Last modified:October 6, 2012


The Final Countdown will remain one of my "cult favorites" just because, hey, its still cool!

The Final Countdown (1980)Awww, come on.  If you were alive in the 1980's you've seen The Final Countdown.  It was on TV like every other weekend on one of the big cable networks.  And you watched it.  Every time.  Because it was cool.

You know what? It still is.  Maybe its just the nostalgia factor but I still like this movie.

In the biggest "what if" scenario that's ever existed, the carrier USS Nimitz gets sent back in time to the day before Pearl Harbor, and has to contend with the decision to stand idly by while Pearl Harbor is attacked, or to interefere and change history forever.

Just in case you're one of the four people who hasn't ever seen it, I won't spoil the outcome.  But I still have to rave about the movie.  Sure its chock full of 1980-isms.  Semi cheap production, bad special effects and some corny writing, but an all star cast and some unfettered access to the carrier and its crew and planes more than make up for it all.

I think from the sci-fi angle it also plays out well as a good "time travel movie."  The moral dilemma of "do we interfere" coupled with a bit of philosophy on the order of "is history changable" really stop and make you think a bit.  And it does it without the usual Star Trek-ish pseudo-science and made-up plot devices.  It -just happened- and they don't even attempt to explain it.  Good, it doesn't require explaining!  The fact that everybody can't even comprehend whats happened furthers the believability of it all.

What if their actions had saved the congressman?  Would the world as we know it cease to exist?  If the Nimitz wiped out the Japanese fleet before the invasion, would things have unfolded any differently?  The more you look back on the events around WWII, the more you realize that it couldn't have happened any other way.  Almost like it had to happen.  I think this picture puts those feelings down in a very concrete way.

Of course, it wouldn't be a decent 1980's war movie if you didn't throw in the Russian "Cold War" angle.  That's what they all think it is at first, some sort of Russian nuclear strike.  A healthy bit of paranoia can go a long way....  Kind of funny in a way when you think of it now, but at the time, the threat was still considered very real.

There's a few tongue-in-cheek bits of comedy, such as when the rescued Zero pilot (Soon Teck-Oh) practically leaves his jaw on the deck as he's brought on board the carrier.

Couple that with star power such as Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen, and you've got a really underrated picture that could have been better, but not much.

And the ending?  Once you've seen it, it all makes sense.  The Final Countdown will remain one of my "cult favorites" just because, hey, its still cool!


The Final Countdown (1980) Chris

Summary: The Final Countdown will remain one of my "cult favorites" just because, hey, its still cool!


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About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.

4 Responses to The Final Countdown (1980)

  1. Jim Augustus says:

    I was in that movie. I was assigned to the ship when the movie was made and had several lines and was the Junior Officer of the Deck on the bridge. I’m in the credits!! Thanks for the good write-up…not only is it a great movie, but the soundtrack is outstanding!

  2. Phil McMillan says:

    I served with Jim Augustus in VP 16 was Flight Engineer on his crew would like to hear from him.

  3. Jim Augustus says:

    Hey Phil! Great time in Tuscaloosa!! Hope to see you again soon!

  4. fabs says:

    one of the best movies i have ever seen in my lifetime,to date. i’ve been wanting to have my own copy so i can view it every now and then. i don’t know, but i can comfortably relate with the story… i just don’t know why. yes, probably because it was really cool… until now.

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