A retired CIA agent is brought out of retirement to rescue Howard Hughes who has been kidnapped. The assignment leads to the discovery of non other than Atlantus.
It is 1976 and the Cold War rages on. But the news community is abuzz with speculation on the whereabouts of the charismatic albeit eccentric, Howard Hughes. All reported instances of sighting him have proven to be unfounded. Suddenly there is an announcement that informs the world exactly where Hughes is. The apolitical Russian scientific icebreaker, Brezhnev, has been investigating a new theory on the geographic location of Atlantis when a gang of Russian Mafia arrives on power skidoo sleds to surround it. Somehow they have learned the ailing Hughes has purchased a berth hoping to be among the first to see remnants of the city described by Homer, Plato, and others.
The mafia easily overtakes the unarmed captain and his crew and they use the ship radio to demand a billion dollars gold ransom. The CIA fears broadcasting their association with Hughes may be an embarrassment to the U.S. if the Red Army gets to him first and makes him talk. They bring Johnny Walker out of retirement to see if he can rescue Hughes, and they ask Harlow, a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, to tag along as his Russian interpreter. She nearly backs out of the project when she hears it is the Johnny Walker, the same Walker that once left her at the altar.
Walker finally accepts the assignment not only as a favor to an old friend, but as a patriotic gesture to the U.S. President. He learns to his dismay that he is to get Hughes off the ship if possible, but if it looks likely the Red Army will ultimately get him and there is no way to get him out safely, he must kill this one last time. Walker eventually proves resourceful at turning the tables on the Russian Mafia pirates. He is instrumental at getting the ailing Hughes flown off the ship via helicopter, but the man dies a few days later of natural causes. At the President’s request, Walker finally finds Atlantis and he and Harlow have their exploration of what remains of it interrupted by a volcano blast that rivals that of Mount Suvius.
The President is ecstatic that America will get the accolades for rediscovering Atlantis, and he has Walker and Harlow flown to Washington where he bestows a medal to a very embarrassed Walker. Afterwards, Walker and Harlow celebrate their success and reunion by making love. He says he has rekindled Harlow’s flame and there is nothing she can do about it. But the following morning she is gone; Walker learns too late the error of his ways and he cries like a baby, rueful of his loss.
After Hughes is saved, the exploration of Atlantis id cut short when a volcano erupts with a vengeance.