The Final Countdown (1980)

PG  |   |  Action, Sci-Fi  |  1 August 1980 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 15,372 users  
Reviews: 141 user | 45 critic

A modern aircraft carrier is thrown back in time to 1941 near Hawaii, just hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Laurel Scott
Cdr. Richard Owens / Mr.Tideman
Cdr. Dan Thurman
Senator Samuel Chapman
Victor Mohica ...
Black Cloud
James Coleman ...
Lt. Perry (as James C. Lawrence)
Simura (as Soon-Teck Oh)
Joe Lowry ...
Cdr. Damon
Lt. Kajima
Mark Thomas ...
Marine Cpl. Kullman
Harold Bergman ...
Navy Doctor
LCdr. Kaufman


An American nuclear aircraft carrier and its crew are caught in a classic dilemma when a supernatural storm sends them back in time just before the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor. Written by Keith Loh <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


On December 7, 1980 --- The nuclear carrier USS Nimitz disappeared in the Pacific...and reappeared December 7, 1941...the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour See more »


Action | Sci-Fi


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| |

Release Date:

1 August 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der letzte Countdown  »

Box Office


SEK 2,722,598 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Reportedly, the filming wrapped early on the U.S.S. Nimitz as it was recalled to its home base so that it could take on the helicopters and crew that were used in the ill-fated "Operation Eagle Claw", the attempt to rescue the U.S. Embassy Iranian Hostages in 1980. See more »


The Colt .45 sidearm seized by the Japanese airman was clearly not the military spec sidearm. It had light-colored wooden grips with the ornate Colt medallion midway in the center of the grip. The military version would have the dark composition grips, which have no decorative medallion. See more »


[first lines]
F-14 Pilot: [voice over radio] Pearl Tower, Tomcat two-zero-zero. requesting clearance for departure runway zero-nine. Over.
Pearl Harbor Tower: [voice over radio] Two-zero-zero, Pearl Harbor Tower. You are cleared runway oh-niner. Winds zero-four-five at eight. SH-three approaching from the right. Have a nice day.
See more »


Referenced in Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (2009) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

All-timer great movie, fantastic flying, top acting, themes for men & women
17 March 2000 | by See all my reviews

This film is one of the great ones. Having served on an aircraft carrier for 2.5 years, I'm familiar with aircraft carrier excitement. But the movie was more than just wonderful shots of the U.S. Nimitz. The cast was top drawer, and their acting was as good as it gets. Standing above all the great performances was a Japanese actor portraying a shot-down, highly competent, captured Japanese Zero pilot. While racism understandably raises its ugly head during wartime, with epithets and insults hurled in both directions, in fact this Japanese actor portrayed a Japanese warrior at his finest--someone whom Japanese viewers would be proud of. Played equally well were American military personnel, including some Marines. One of the candid themes of the movie is the tragedy of such fine people going to war against each other, whatever their race.

The film is undeniably top drawer, far more mature than than "Top Gun," with even better flying scenes. So I've often wondered why it isn't widely known and not kept in stock in widescreen format. Perhaps the answer is today's wimpy trend towards "politically correct" dialog. In one scene, Kirk Douglas refers to the captured Japanese pilot as a "yellow bastard." In the video version, this was sanitized. However, sanitized or not, the original racial comment, by itself, may have doomed the film from greater video distribution.

I saw the film when it came out in wide-screen format and saw it several times before it left town. Thereafter, the only other versions available in video were "fit-to-TV-screen" size. That was tragic! Though still exciting in "box" format, the widescreen original was breathtaking. I cannot imagine why producers haven't released this in DVD in original wide-screen format. It makes a huge difference with this film! (Aircraft carriers are huge!)

One interesting comment to add about the F-14 flying scenes. I was awed by one particular F-14 maneuver, which I didn't think airplanes were capable of doing. A couple of years later, I talked with a Navy fighter pilot and brought this up. He was very familiar with that scene and personally knew the pilot who flew the F-14 in the movie. He told me that the F-14 almost crashed in that scene, stalling while trying to fly too slow, diving for the ocean to pick up speed, and barely recovering just above the wave tops. This near-accident was caught on film and added immensely to the exhibition of flying skill. An exception had been granted to the Navy's policy of not allowing "dissimilar aircraft" to fly together in movie scenes. The result of that granted exception was almost the loss of an F-14.

This is an incredibly good drama. I found that the various twists and turns, and particularly the call-it-off ending, all contributed to the drama and moral dilemmas. This is a fine, great movie. Like others who commented here, it seems tragic that this film is not available in widescreen DVD format. Everyone I've shown it to loves it, male and female. Feminism and romance are included, along with a collie dog for the kids.

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