PASKAL (2018)

So I admit to being hesitant about watching PASKAL. First, I’m not a fan of army themed movies. And second, it’s a local movie, which I tend to stay from due to the over and unnecessary drama as well as over or underacting that comes along with it. But Fuzz was keen to watch it, and since I’d just come back from three weeks away and he just came back from Singapore plus will be away from another week I thought, oh well, worse comes to worse, I’ll just play with my phone in the cinema.

I’m glad to report though, that I didn’t have to.

The movie is not perfect by any means, yet despite a few shaky starts, it turned out to be quite well done and executed. Yes, the acting was stiff in the first few scenes, the first shot of the helicopter taking off was incredibly unrealistic, and the mother guilt tripping her son about being away at work was exactly the kind of Malay movie drama I detest… never mind the fact that she was somehow ok (and quite hip and happening!) after her I’m-on-death’s-door routine. But when the team came together in a circle to pray before their first mission, that was the moment the movie started to get interesting, and I’m so glad I went along.

Personally, I think that the guilt-trip scene could have been done better than playing to the cliches, because while I’m willing to forego the other iffiness, this was the bit that truly annoyed me. Thankfully, the rest of the movie made up for it.

Inspired by two true stories – the rescue of the ship from the Somalian pirates and the UN peace keeping mission by PASKAL (the Royal Malaysian Navy Special Forces) – the movie provided just the right amount of action, seriousness, humour, and, well, a fairly impressive array of fit bodies. Ahem.

While the rest of the story – former mission mate turned bad, death of another mate and hijacking of an oil rig with the dead mate’s wife on board were all part of the fiction to keep the story going, I do not doubt that the oil rig incident as depicted has probably taken place to some extent, with the aid of the real PASKAL to make the situation right again.

But beyond the story, I liked how it showed us the important role our army and our special forces play to keep things safe. It’s a role not often publicised, and more as likely kept under wraps for security reasons. But I know we have a good army and team watching our backs, and I know this because we don’t see them.

I also give credit to the actors and the training they had to go through. Their moves look legit (to they eye of one untrained in the armed forces way of life), and they just played it so cool in that underwater scene in the pool during training. That cannot have been easy.

And while this movie has done well so far at the cinema, I hope more Malaysians from all walks of life go and watch it. It’s worth the ticket price. My biggest kudos to the director and team for putting together a world-class movie.

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