As Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, Forest Whitaker gives "one of the greatest performances of modern movie history" (Wall Street Journal), one that the Associated Press calls "nothing short of Oscar(r) worthy." This is Amin's i... more »ncredible story as seen through the eyes of Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), a young Scotsman who becomes the volatile leader's personal physician, due in part to Amin's unexpected passion for Scottish culture -- Amin even proclaims himself "The Last King of Scotland". Seduced by Amin's charisma and blinded by decadence, Garrigan's dream life becomes a waking nightmare of betrayal and madness from which there is no escape. Inspired by real people and events, this gripping, suspenseful stunner is filled with performances you will never forget.« less
Christine G. from FLORISSANT, MO Reviewed on 9/24/2014...
Fascinating movie about a charismatic dictator. Extremely violent. Gripping story.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Amber M. from MORROW, GA Reviewed on 4/9/2013...
This is a wonderful example of a how a leader becomes a dictator. Great acting from everyone involved! Depressing, but realistic and gritty and honest. Good character study.
Jean M. (geniedawn) from TUJUNGA, CA Reviewed on 3/7/2008...
Quite simply one of the best performances of all time!! Forest Whitaker CHANNELS Idi Amin.... At the beginning of the film, Whitaker is charming, riveting, a King ... but as the film advances, he becomes increasingly disturbing in his demented cruelty. I'm glad I saw this brilliant performance once, and it haunted me for days. But this disturbing film isn't one for repeated viewing, too grisly, too graphic, too involving and too very very real. Scary....
A Great Fictional Thriller Set In A Very Real Backdrop--"Las
K. Harris | Las Vegas, NV | 02/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Before going any further, let's be upfront about what "The Last King of Scotland" is. It is essentially a fictional thriller, with a political/historical backdrop. With Forest Whitaker's highly touted performance as real-life Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, it may be natural to assume that the film is biographical in nature, but it is not. While many of the events portrayed within the film are based on actual incidents, the primary story involving Amin's white Scottish doctor (James McAvoy who is the actual lead performance) is a complete work of fiction by "Scotland" novelist Giles Foden. Interestingly enough, the original conception for this character was loosely based on the valet from Moliere's "Don Juan"--but he was promoted to a doctor, in this story, to generate more compelling ethical questions. With that clarification in place, "The Last King of Scotland" is one heck of a ride--it is a riveting thriller that also manages to provide relevant insight into the complexity of Amin's private and public personas.
The story framework and basic setup is not unfamiliar, we've seen it in many other genres--from political films, financial thrillers, corrupt cop stories, mob portraits, and even in supernatural hokum. Basically, an ambitious young man is seduced by wealth and power. Falling under the spell of an engaging mentor, he buys into the glorious lifestyle that he has always dreamed of--sacrificing a bit of himself, and making some moral compromises, in the process. Ultimately, though, the situation gets out of hand, but it may be too late. He is now complicit in the same crimes he wishes to extricate himself from. In this case, McAvoy plays a Scottish medic who arrives in Uganda, on impulse, to "make a difference." As Amin is rising to power, McAvoy gets caught up in public sentiment and a chance meeting brings doctor and dictator together. Amin is fascinated by the young man's brash and bold nature, and the doctor is enthralled by Amin's power and charm. Forming a strong initial bond, things soon start unraveling as Amin's real nature starts to become more clear.
The power of "Last King" comes from the fact that this bond, this relationship, is actually quite believable. You understand what would bring these two men together, and ultimately what would drive them apart. Credit the screenplay for these interactions, but it's also the actors who breathe life into a great story. Forest Whitaker, having won 1042 acting prizes for this role (OK, maybe not quite that many), is indeed phenomenal as Amin. Expertly capturing both his charm and his dangerous paranoia, it is a spot-on recreation of a man who loved the limelight. If you aren't familiar with the actual Amin, check out Barbet's Schroeder's documentary "General Idi Amin Dada" (available from Criterion) to see just how astute his portrait is. McAvoy, who some find less convincing, is actually the dramatic center of the film, however. It is his evolution from callow youth to coconspirator to victim that the film revolves around. I, for one, thought he brought a lot to the role. His casual indifference and moral ambiguity heighten this tale--it's not just a routine good versus evil story.
Anyway, with great performances, realistic action sequences, and a tight script--I really enjoyed "Last King." It was a thriller that I found to be genuinely thrilling, and the Ugandan backdrop is portrayed perfectly. At times harrowing and brutal, this bit of fiction succeeds not only as rousing entertainment, but as a relevant historical portrait as well. KGHarris, 02/07. "
The film showcases a truly spectacular performance....
L. Quido | Tampa, FL United States | 02/26/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Jeremy Brock, who is a television writer, wrote a fine script a few years ago for the film "Mrs. Brown", a tale of Queen Victoria, starring Dame Judi Dench. Brock gets another chance to deliver in his work with "The Last King of Scotland". This time his director is Kevin MacDonald. MacDonald has not yet found fame, but his 1999 documentary, "One Day in September", about the killings at the 1972 Munich Olympics put Spielberg's "Munich" to shame. MacDonald uses a semi-documentary style in creating the arresting film that is "The Last King of Scotland". So, too, like "Mrs. Brown", is the film made memorable by a performance so compelling it will be the stuff of legends, and an arresting supporting performance. "The Last King", which saw limited release, came back to many American theaters in the past month as a tribute to the Golden Globe and the newly won Oscar by Forest Whitaker for his role as Amin. In his shadow is a fine performance from James McAvoy as the FICTIONAL, callow Dr. Garrigan, the personal doctor to Amin.
Dr. Garrigan meets Amin just as he comes into power, and quite by accident, is connected to the arresting Amin who loves all things Scottish. In 1971, at the time the movie begins, Amin overthrew then dictator Obote in a coup that was lauded both in Uganda and abroad. Obote supporters persisted in Uganda and Tanzania, attempting to assassinate Amin more than once. Amin quickly morphed from a benevolent commander of what he envisioned as a democratic, western-type rule, to a treacherous paranoid. Ethnic violence resulted in a wave of tortures and assassinations throughout the country. Amin turned on the country's Asian (mainly Indian) population and cast out Hindus, Muslims and Jews. He looted their businesses.
Aligning himself with Muammar al-Qaddafi, the Soviet Union and the PLO, Amin was shunned by the British government and the foreign press. His behavior became more and more unhinged as he attempted to keep close to the customs he had once revered by dressing in Scottish garb, throwing fetes with Scottish themes, and finally resorting to costumes of all kinds. In 1976, PLO supporters hijacked a French plane and 256 hostages were held at Entebbe, on the ground in Uganda. Amin visited the hostages and finally brokered the release of all but Israelis and Jews. Israel launched a rescue, which has been featured many times on film and in books, which freed all but one of the hostages, and 3 which had been killed by Ugandans under Amin's auspices. The world shunned Amin, and the knowledge of his practices of genocide (estimates of Ugandan's killed in the 8 years of his regime range from 80,000 to 300,00) became known. All charm and pretense disappeared in his last years, and his increasing paranoia and illness rendered him a monster. He was driven into exile by Tanzanian-Ugandan forces in 1979.
In the film, against this backdrop comes the story of Amin's friendship and leverage on young Dr. Garrigan, who initially is blinded by the charm that Amin exhibits, and who slowly comes face to face with his erratic behavior and the personal threat that Amin poses to the Doctor. The film take us through Garrigan's early denials, and later to his bleak despair, unmindful affair with one of Amin's wives, and his eventual torture. It culminates in the scene at Entebbe, with the world watching.
While the relationship deteriorates, the viewer is fascinated with Whitaker's captivating leadership and vision for a bright future for Uganda. He's persuasive, confident, and exudes charm and intelligence. He yells and shows his anger and penchant for violence with no remorse. Contrarily, he's childlike in his delight for things. He's a man for all seasons and Whitaker, with his powerful physique and a voice he is said to have taken lessons to enhance, is perfect for the role. As paranoia, greed and fame set in, Whitaker dissembles into the real Amin - his eyes twitch, adrenaline makes him shudder and lope, he generates an aura of danger and unpredictability that has seldom been seen on the screen before. He IS Amin. McAvoy plays him off with the dawning realization of the danger his is in and his need to placate the man, while continuing to make reckless decisions that will eventually cause Amin to turn on him.
Surrounded by the scenic beauty of the real Uganda, the red earth, the air that shimmers, the lushness of the territory and the beauty and terror of her people, Whitaker takes the film to a stunning and brutal conclusion that leaves you shaking in your seat.
There are some editing flaws, notably in Whitaker's action scenes, some decisions made by the director that make the film sometimes a documentary, sometimes a feature. Ultimately the film is not great, just grand. And Whitaker, who has given us legendary work before in "The Crying Game" and "Bird",( and a 20 year career of dedication to acting as a craft) deserved every award he received this season.
A fascinating film, sure to be a popular DVD."
A Politcal Portrait That Will Be Remembered For Years To Com
Kaya Savas | Bethesda, MD USA | 10/20/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"MOVIE: Nicholas Garrigan is a free spirit young man who has just finished med school and is aching to get away from his parents. He spins the plastic globe in his room and lands his finger on Uganda. The movie jumps right there as he travels to a missionary to be a volunteer doctor. From the opening credits and his actions with Sarah Merrit (Gillian Anderson) at the missionary we can see that this character is immature and just looking for a fun way to live.
One day he is stopped by the President's army because apparently the President is in need of a doctor. He drives up to find the President standing next to his car in the ditch and a dying longhorn bull laying on the side of the road. A giant deal is made over a simply bruised hand and during the chaos Nicholas takes the President's gun and puts the screaming animal out of its misery. I suppose it was the strength that Nicholas demonstrated then and there that appealed to Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker). From that point on a new friendship is made as Amin takes Nicholas under his wing to be his personal physician. Nicholas is reluctant at first to accept the offer because he knows that the missionary is in need of his help much more than the charming dictator. Of course we can't forget that Nicholas wants to live the good life, and he cannot resist all that Amin offers him. He cannot resist temptation and gives in, practically selling his soul to the devil if you will. From that point things begin to escalate and Nicholas sees what Amin truly is, and that is a power hungry murderer.
The story itself is an easy one to follow, and we immediately connect and relate to the main characters. Director Kevin Macdonald gets us acquainted with Nicholas and Amin, so we sort of open up as an audience to them. We follow Nicholas' journey in that we accept Idi Amin as a fun loving and passionate leader. But as the story moves along we as an audience move away from both Nicholas and Amin. Nicholas's fatal flaw as a character is greed since he is easily tempted with material goods and the promises of fame and fortune, not to mention sexual temptation with one of the many wives of Amin. We begin to pity him for the moral mistakes he makes, but deep in our hearts we want him to survive because he was truly taken advantage of by a powerful figure. Paradise soon becomes hell, and a struggle to escape the closing grasp of darkness begins. The only flaw of the film was in its structure. Things move really quickly, it's a fast paced film, but I would have liked to linger a bit more with Nicholas' character at the missionary. I felt we jumped in way too fast, and the entire timeline of Idi Amin's reign felt like it occurred over a week. The film's events felt consecutive which made it feel like the entire film happened in a month, yet in actuality the timeline spans from 1971 to 1979.
ACTING: Forest Whitaker gives the best performance of his career. You will not see such a captivating and authentic example of acting anywhere else. Will he win the Oscar? If it were up to me he would, but it's been hard to predict the Oscars the past few years. Now, I could go on and on about Forest Whitaker's performance, but then that would be injust to James McAvory. McAvory was introduced to American audiences last year when he played Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. In this film he sells the character completely and makes him very accessible. His change of character once he figures out deep of a hole he has dug himself in is perfect for the film, and he gives an equally good performance as Whitaker. Fine acting from the two, very fine.
BOTTOM LINE: Structural problems are minor and don't hinder the film enough to hurt its impact, the film is intense and captivating. It will be a politcal portrait that will be remembered for years to come."
Mark Whitaker Down For An Oscar Nab Next Year!
Kevin T. Rodriguez | Citrus Heights, CA United States | 10/18/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A funny thing happened to me after I finished a screening of "The Last King of Scotland," I thought about the Iraq war. I thought of the war because here is a movie about a dictator, who got the people of his country on his side, took over the country, and then caused great misery throughout his country. Saddam was a monster, but to many Iraqi's he was a man for the people before he went crazy on them. "The Last King of Scotland" revolves around Nicholas Garrigan, the son of a wealthy doctor in Scotland who just received his own doctor's degree. He's supposed to go into the family business with dear old dad, but feels he is called somewhere else, and ends up in Ugandan, Africa. Nicholas has come to Ugandan during a time where Ugandan is about to become a republic, under the leadership of their new president Idi Amin.
Nicholas hears Amin speak at a rally, and falls in love with the guy. Here's a leader who's charming, funny, and good with kids. When Nicholas meets Amin, he is pleased to discover that Amin takes a liking to Nicholas too. So much so, that Amin makes Nicholas his personal doctor and eventually his personal advisor. Nicholas gets treated like royalty by Amin, and feels proud to be contributing to Ugandans' bright future. However, as time goes on, Amin starts showing signs that he is not the giant teddy bear he appears to be. After a couple of Amin's men question his true intentions, the men disappear. A British journalist tells Nicholas to keep an eye on Amin, claimed that Amin had not only killed hundreds of people, but that "they are getting very sloppy too. They aren't bothering digging graves anymore, choosing to just feed most people to the crocodiles."
As the movie goes on, we too start to worry about Amin's sanity. We see more and more of his outbursts, and when Nicholas requests to go home, Amin gives him a cold stare that shot daggers into my heart. It's at this point Nicholas realizes what a dangerous man Amin really is, and watching the movie from an audience perspective, we suspect that it could be too late for Nicholas to get out of the situation he has gotten himself into. Nicholas Garrigan is played by James McAvoy, who is best known as Mr. Tumnus the Faun in "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe," and he gives a star making performance in this movie. While we see the signs way in advance that Nicholas may be getting too close and personal with a dangerous man, we can't deny that he's living a good lifestyle. With the eagerness of a kid owning his first car, McAvoy goes through the perfect notions of someone who is treated like a king himself, before he realizes the danger he might be in.
Gillian Anderson, who has a minor role as Dr. Sarah Merrit, warns Nicholas that Amin might not be as nice as he seems, and halfway through the movie, we'll discover that she was right. The star of the movie though is Forrest Whitaker as the murderous Idi Amin. With a thick accent, playful modes, and terrifying moments where the character is raving like a madman, Whitaker will most likely win the Academy Award for Best Actor come Oscar time. While Whitaker's character is only in about two-thirds of the movie, his presence is larger then life, and is one of those truly memorable performances that will linger in your mind years after the movie has faded from your memory. What we ultimately have with "The Last King of Scotland" is the story of a man who could have been a true leader, but chose the path of a dictator.
Many murderous dictators exist in the world today, and like Idi Amin, they too most likely charmed their countrymen until they got into power, where their true colors came to light. I warn you now, this is not a movie you will go to see for entertainment. Oh sure, the first half of the film has you smiling quite a bit, but the final hour is grim, dark, and there is at least one torture scene that is the most graphic torture scene I've seen since Mel Gibson's "The Passion of The Christ." Most people will not want to finish "The Last King of Scotland," or even want to see it in the first place, but it is a fascinating historical piece that reminds us of how lucky we are to live in America, or any free country, away from dictators like Idi Amin."
Dextra L. Suggs | Bucca, Iraq | 04/29/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Forest Whitaker has long been one of Hollywood's most underrated treasures. But his portrayal of Uganda's famously violent leader Idi Amin, may have forever changed his status. Right down to the insanity visible in his eyes, Whitaker takes us on an unforgettable ride of treachery. James McAvoy is equally compelling as the young Dr. Nicholas Garrigan, who is quickly seduced by power and lust. Gillian Anderson and Kerry Washington both render subtle, yet potent portrayals of the romantically starved wives of important and powerful men respectively. This high praise is issued however with a caveat. While the film was a fictionalized version of events during Amin's reign, its grainy texture gives it at times, a documentary like feel. Nonetheless, Whitaker kills in this riveting story of the corrupting seduction of power and its trappings."