The Final Countdown Review

The Final Countdown is a film that’s pretty good but at the same time you feel like it sort of cheats on the premise. Almost 90% of the film is setting up for the actual plot to happen and then it suddenly ends. I’d like a remake that actually goes all in here and lets the heroes play around with the time travel a bit. This is one of those rare instances where I’m convinced a second watch will always be worse than the first viewing but on the initial viewing you should still have a good time here.

The movie starts by introducing us to Captain Yelland and his ship as they are just leaving Pearl Harbor. A guy named Lasky has been invited aboard to basically see how things are done abord the ship and see if any protocols are to be updated. He’s an efficiency expert you can say but all of a sudden the ship goes through a portal and warps back to a few days before the events of Pearl Harbor. They must now decide if they should try to change history and stop the tragedy from occurring or let it play out so as to not affect the timestream.

While that may be the main plot, the characters aren’t debating if they should act or not for most of the movie because they don’t realize what is happening until the end. So for the most part the characters are just trying to figure out what is going on but since its obvious to the viewer the whole time this doesn’t have as much bite. It’s an interesting film but one that just feels a bit misleading in what the focus will be on. This probably would have worked better as a series or with some sequels so we could actually get back to the plot. Instead the film ends on a bit of a whimper. There is one cool aspect to the ending but I really wanted to explore the changes to the timeline and how that would have affected everyone.

I liked Captain Yelland though and he had the right response. Ultimately he says that they can’t worry about what’ll happen down the line and have to save everyone they can in the present. He was prepared to do what was needed and it’s not like the allies would lose a lot on this. They are from far enough in the future where it would be supremely easy to take the win here and you have to do it. He also kept calm the whole time and never really panicked. This is the kind of man you want to have at the helm of the ship because you can count on him to get results.

Owens is the most annoying character here though. His viewpoint is the classic “We shouldn’t mess with history” not realizing that just by being in the past you’ve already changed things. Deciding not to help your own country avoid one of its largest historic tragedies would be downright criminal. Then he tries to say that it’s not like they could change the past anyway but they evidently already did by saving a senator. The situation isn’t one that can be immediately understood and that’s why instead of giving up right from the jump you should try to do your best. If you get to go to the past, don’t question the logic of how it happened and just do your best to make sure everything turns out all right. That’s the only winning attitude to be had here.

Then you have Lasky who mainly proves to be a thorn in everyone’s side. Owens is reasonably upset with him because Lasky keeps breaking into his office to look at things. Lasky is not someone who is particularly great with boundaries after all. He just does what he wants at any time. On one hand at least he is ready to change the future but on the other hand he just seems to want to stir up trouble instead of helping sometimes like when he nearly tipped off the senator and secretary that they were being tricked. That’s exactly what you don’t do in that situation.

Senator Chapman is an interesting character as he’s technically a good guy and trying to figure out what’s going on but he functions as an antagonist here. After all he’s from the past and doesn’t know anything about the future. The main characters aren’t too forthcoming on that front so they come across as being extremely suspicious. I don’t even blame him for drawing a gun later on because from his point of view they’ve just taken him to a deserted island and there is no guarantee that he would ever get off. It’s just a shame that everything turned sideways so nobody really got to win.

Laurel was also reasonable here. She has a pet dog to worry about which is stressful and the whole situation is overwhelming but she does her best in coming to terms with it. I’d ay she did a better job of that than most characters would in her place. So the side characters were fun and the exchanges with past and future characters is really what you’re here for. That’s why it’s a shame that this isn’t the focus. I want to see them change the past and what repercussions come of that. The fact that they waited so long to help the Americans on the boat was also a shame since fatalities happened before they could step in.

You have to fight injustice no matter what era you are in. So when over 40 minutes is just the characters sitting around and talking it feels like a big build up to something that never really happens. I was really surprised when the film just ended all of a sudden. I can tell you that it was not the ending I had been expecting for the film at all. It’s all a cop out but I’ve said this several times already so lets not get too repetitive here. Even with the ending I still enjoyed the film quite a bit. The dialogue is smart and the premise is still really interesting. I’d absolutely like to see someone else take a crack at this and it’s why I love time travel in general. It opens the door to so many different storylines and possibilities. Particularly a war setting since 30 years can be a difference of night and day in terms of firepower and utility.

Overall, The Final Countdown has a climax that never actually occurs which does hurt the film a bit and completely obliterates its replay value. That said, it is still a very suspenseful watch for 90% of the feature so that’s enough for me to recommend it. The film even does have a quick fight scene but that one was a bit forced since the villain never should have been in a situation to grab the gun. That was just sloppy of the heroes, they should have worked a bit harder/smarter to prevent that from happening. Even the gun scuffle near the end wasn’t a great look. At the end of the day if you underestimate your opponent you will absolutely get burned.

Overall 7/10


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