Friday, December 5, 2008

#114: The Final Countdown


The Final Countdown
Directed by Don Taylor
Written by Gerry Davis, Thomas Hunter, Peter Powell, and David Ambrose
Released August 1, 1980

Here is a movie begging for a remake, and I'm not saying that because the movie is bad. On the contrary, The Final Countdown is a fun little sci-fi/action movie with a very interesting premise.

I guess I'll drop a SPOILER WARNING right here, even though any description of this movie pretty much gives this bit away from the beginning: The Final Countdown is about a modern day aircraft carrier that gets sucked into a time warp and deposited near Pearl Harbor in Hawaii hours before the infamous Japanese attack that sparked the United States' involvement in World War II.

Starring Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen, The Final Countdown presents the viewer with a great moral argument: with this insane firepower and modern technology at their hands, should the Navy intervene and easily defeat the Japanese, or should they hang back and avoid disrupting the course of history?

It's a great nail to hang a story from, but there's so much there to ponder that you almost feel shortchanged when the movie is over in less than two hours. I have no complaints about the movie, and Douglas and Sheen both do great work and seem like they're having a good time together. I'd say it's a pretty high compliment that I wanted so much more.

My proposition, I think, is a fairly clever one that could possibly work on a network like Showtime or HBO: make a 3 or 4 hour mini-series re-make of this flick, and use Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen (or hell, Emilio Estevez) in place of their fathers. It's a nice gimmick to work from, and the two guys are pretty much the exact ages their fathers were when making The Final Countdown.

With the extended running time, you could really flesh out the time travel aspect of the story (it is barely dealt with in the original movie, beyond a little "Hey man, I'm just sayin', we might have just travelled through time"). Have some fun with that, and while you're at it, go into a little more detail with the Navy crew's secretive observations of the events leading up to the bombings.

I have my friend Eric to thank for mentioning this movie to me years ago when I lived in Chicago. It kept popping in and out of my mind until I finally found it on Netflix, and I was glad I finally followed through with the suggestion. It's not one of the greatest films of all time, but there's nothing wrong with enjoying a fun, somewhat thought provoking little action movie. Plus, how can you go wrong with a Japanese bomber repeatedly attacking Charles Durning?

For more on The Final Countdown:
- Movie information at IMDB and Wikipedia.
- Buy the 2 disc special edition DVD.

A portion of the "splash the zeros" scene:

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