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The Final Countdown

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

The Final Countdown is a 1980 science fiction movie starring Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Katharine Ross[?], and the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. It was directed by Don Taylor[?].

Kirk Douglas is Captain Matthew Yelland, commander of the Nimitz, who has been requested to take on a civilian observer Warren Lasky, played by Martin Sheen, before going on exercises in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. The ship encounters a strange storm, passes through a sort of vortex, and after the storm passes, all the usual communication with the shore has been cut off.

The captain sends out patrols, who are just as surprised to run into Japanese Zeros as they are to see F-14 Tomcat jets whizzing by. Finally they figure out that they have been transported back in time, to December 6, 1941, yes indeed, the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Worse, they've also rescued the passengers of a pleasure boat that had been attacked by the Zeros, a Senator Chapman (Charles Durning[?]) and his niece(?) Laurel Scott (Katharine Ross[?]), and the Senator is especially indignant that the Navy has kept him in the dark about the new supercarrier that he finds himself on.

Captain Zelland now has the dilemma of deciding whether to alter history by using the awesome power of the Nimitz to foil the Japanese attack, or to stand by and watch the destruction. In the end, it turns out that the real purpose of the time warp was to get Warren and Laurel together; they leave the ship and stay in 1941, while the freaky storm returns to send the ship back to 1980. At the end of the movie we get the big hint that Warren and Laurel became wealthy from Warren's knowledge of what was going to happen, and that his older self was the one who pulled the strings to get his younger self assigned to the Nimitz.

This was Nimitz's movie debut, and the movie features enough shipboard scenes and action to satisfy any navy buff.



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