The Last King of Scotland


Action / Biography / Drama / History / Thriller


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Downloaded 66,668 times
August 28, 2011 at 08:48 PM


James McAvoy as Dr. Nicholas Garrigan
Gillian Anderson as Sarah Merrit
Kerry Washington as Kay Amin
Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin
698.77 MB
23.976 fps
2hr 3 min
P/S 14 / 113

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by evanston_dad 9 / 10

A Hugely Exciting African-Set Thriller

With "The Last King of Scotland," Kevin MacDonald has created a bracing, exciting and totally satisfying thriller.

Forest Whitaker gives a titanic performance as Idi Amin, Ugandan dictator who rose to power in the 1970s. James McAvoy plays Nicholas Garrigan, a Scottish physician who travels to Uganda for the adventure and wins Amin's affections, becoming his personal doctor. Garrigan enters into a moral crisis as he begins to realize the kind of man Amin is, and begins to fear for his own life as events spiral more and more out of his control.

Whitaker seizes the chance to play this larger than life character and runs with it -- I've never seen Whitaker give so convincing and transforming a performance. However, as good as he is, McAvoy impressed me more. His performance as Garrigan is not as showy, but it's much more textured and subtle, and his character has the bigger arc from start to finish. Gillian Anderson also does terrific work in a small role as a fellow doctor, who understands things about Amin and the African culture that Garrigan does not.

Unlike other recent thrillers set in African nations ("The Constant Gardener," "Hotel Rwanda"), "The Last King of Scotland" is not greatly concerned with the geo-political implications of Amin's reign. The atrocities he committed against Ugandans are given only the barest of mentions, and the film sticks almost exclusively to Garrigan and the danger he himself faces. Some may think the film is irresponsible for this reason -- that the plight of one man pales in comparison to the plight of thousands, and I can see where a criticism like that is justified. But the movie packs a powerful wallop regardless, and complaints like this seem like quibbles when up against such an entertaining movie.

Grade: A

Reviewed by jim pyke 9 / 10

Forrest Whitaker alone is worth the price of admission

How can an actor terrify you without saying a word, without even hardly moving his face or body? I'm not sure how he does it, but Mr. Whitaker does it over and over again in this movie. And then he turns around the next minute and becomes giant hug-able teddy bear superhero. Forget all the others, this is the best horror film of the year. This movie, and his performance in particular, grab hold of you and never let go. Whitaker should win an Oscar for best actor, I've never seen a better performance in my life. Also notable is the Nicholas Garrigan character who is written and acted very skilfully to draw the (non-African) spectator into the world of Uganda and Amin. The way his character willingly "falls into" Amin's web of charisma somehow goes a long way toward mitigating the racist potential of a story about a very troubled (African black) man. The way the interplay of the two lead character's cultural backgrounds plays out on screen moves the story beyond just their personalities and into the realm of incisive socio-political analysis and critique. This movie is quite incredible, really.

Reviewed by janos451 8 / 10

Idi Amin, Entertainer

Life, unlike bad movies, is seldom obvious. In life, murderous dictators don't appear - especially at first - as mustache-twirling Snidley Whiplash figures, cackling madly (although Mussolini came close). The scary truth about monsters is that they are three-dimensional beings, not cardboard cutouts, who just kill a lot of people, but otherwise put their pants on one leg at a time, like you and I, and that makes them so much scarier than if they came from another planet.

In the best film of the "dictator genre," Oliver Hirschbiegel's brilliant "Downfall," Hitler appears as a man who is kind to his dog and his secretary (roughly in that order), and the impact of the work is all the greater as we witness what a "real person" is capable of doing. In Luis Puenzo's "The Official Story," Pinochet's reign of terror is depicted through a single act of violence, as a door is slammed on Norma Aleandro's hand; the effect is stunning and "real."

In the hands of a less talented director, the story of Idi Amin would be told against mountains of skulls and bones left behind by Uganda's mad ruler in the 1970s. (His total toll is estimated at 300,000.) In Kevin Macdonald's complex, intelligent, gripping "The Last King of Scotland," more than half of the two-hour film subtly implies, hints at the dark forces underneath normalcy while "life goes on."

And so, having established real contact with the audience, a jolly and seductive Forest Whitaker then takes our breath away as the mask comes off, and his Amin reaches out from the screen for your throat.

Macdonald - whose previous works are documentaries, including the Oscar-winning "One Day in September," about the Munich Olympics terrorist incident - looks at Amin through the eyes of a young Scottish doctor (James McAvoy), a well-meaning, honest humanitarian slowly seduced by the Scots-loving Amin, who appoints him his personal doctor and then adviser.

The McAvoy character is fictional (although Amin did have a Scottish doctor), coming from Giles Foden's novel of the same name, but just about everything else in the film is based on fact - so much so that some documentary footage is smoothly integrated into the film. And yet, what's important and outstanding about "Last King" is that just as a painting can surpass a photograph in presenting reality, this film conveys the seduction and horror of a brutal dictatorship indirectly, subtly, unexpectedly.

Unexpected - and welcome - are the many flashes of humor, both Whitaker (dictator with personality) and McAvoy (eager pup of a doctor with overactive hormones) making the best of it. The tone is set in the opening sequence, as the frustrated, suppressed young Dr. Garrigan spins a small globe, swearing repeatedly that he will move to the first spot ("the first!") where he points when the globe stops. The first spot turns out to be Canada. McAvoy/Garrigan takes one look, hesitates... and spins again. And so to Uganda...

The linear, freely-flowing story-telling is masterful, taking us from the small village where Dr. Garrigan comes to do good and ends up doing well through a chance meeting with Amin, to Kampala, much court intrigue and colorful depravity (even as the fate of a nation is at stake), and eventually to Entebbe.

Fun and games, authentic scenery (the film was shot in Uganda), subtlety, psychology, a heart-pounding scene at Entebbe (after the hijacking, but before the Israeli rescue), nudity, sex, violence, harrowing questions about "what would you do," and all - "Last King" is a wonderful compendium of facts and greater truths. Also, a hell of a good movie.

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