The Final Countdown, video, widescreen DVD version
Four out of five stars
This movie is based on a premise that has been used many times in science fiction, time travel. In this case, the classic paradoxes are discussed but avoided. The modern U. S. S. Nimitz nuclear powered aircraft carrier is operating off the coast of Hawaii when it encounters what appears to be a very strange weather front. It plays momentary havoc with the systems on board as well as the members of the crew, although none are injured and the ship suffers no real damage.
The unusual event is in fact a time vortex and transports the Nimitz back in time to the day before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. One of the officers on board the Nimitz is very schooled in history and he is writing a book about the Japanese attack, how it was carried out and the consequences. Therefore, he has full knowledge of the events that are about to take place.
This forces the ship commander to make a decision, whether to destroy the Japanese fleet and prevent the attack, dramatically altering history, or follow some other path, which may be just as consequential. After all, once they determine when they are, there is no expectation that they will ever leave their current thread in time. The power of a modern carrier would quickly destroy the entire Japanese task force, ending the war in a matter of days. It would also be very hard for them to keep the knowledge of their existence a secret and they all took an oath to defend the United States against all enemies.
Unfortunately, the producers of the movie avoided the major issues of such an event, essentially pressing a reset button that avoids having to deal with what would have been an interesting story of alternative history. The acting is pretty good, Kirk Douglas does an excellent job as the commander of the ship as does Martin Sheen as a civilian observer.
The best part of the movie is the action that takes place on the carrier. It was filmed aboard the Nimitz with the cooperation of the U. S. Navy. Observing how things are done on the carrier is a lesson in how powerful those ships are. A single modern carrier could quickly wipe out the most powerful navies of only decades ago.