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Martin Sheen once made an absurd WWII movie that used time travel

Martin Sheen and Kirk Douglas starred in a time travel movie set during WW2, but trust us, the story is really not at all like what you might be thinking.

Martin Sheen in The West Wing

Martin Sheen has had a long, fruitful career. He’s worked on The West Wing, with Stanley Kubrick, Terrence Malick, and Steven Spielberg, and made some of the best movies of all time. Within his filmography, one forgotten project is a bizarre science fiction movie that beggars belief.

To set the scene: December 6, 1941, the day before the attacks on Pearl Harbor. A mysterious ship appears, boasting technology well beyond the capabilities of this time period. It seems like something from the future. And that’s because it is.

The Final Countdown is a war movie about a vessel fueled by nuclear energy, the USS Nimisky, that suddenly jumps back four decades, to right before one of the biggest events of WWII. On board are Captain Yelland, portrayed by Kirk Douglas, Warren Lasky, played by Sheen, and a full crew, who inadvertently get involved in combat by attracting attention from nearby fighter planes. It’s a strange action movie.

The Nimisky takes on board the survivors of two planes that are shot down, leading to tense conversations about interfering in the events of Pearl Harbour. Should people know? Can the Nimisky go home? What about these new crewmates, do they know too much?

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Now, the thriller movie doesn’t engage in these concepts too heavily, but they’re acknowledged. The US Navy sponsored the ’80s movie, and you can really tell because having the use of actual seafaring vehicles and other military tech is what really makes the movie what it is.

This would be one of the last films from director Don Taylor, who’d made his name on substandard sequels, like horror movie Damien: Omen II. The Final Countdown won’t trump Steven Spielberg movie Saving Private Ryan or Christopher Nolan movie Dunkirk, but if you’re looking for one of the best time travel movies that’s less obvious, then look no further.