Director: Kevin Macdonald
Starring: Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy,
Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson
RunTime: 2 hrs 5 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Rating: M18 (Violence)
Opening Day: 1 February 2007
an incredible twist of fate, a Scottish doctor (James McAvoy)
on a Ugandan medical mission becomes irreversibly entangled
with one of the world’s most barbaric figures: Idi Amin
(Forest Whitaker). Impressed by Dr. Garrigan’s brazen
attitude in a moment of crisis, the newly self-appointed Ugandan
President Amin hand picks him as his personal physician and
closest confidante. Though Garrigan is at first flattered
and fascinated by his new position, he soon awakens to Amin’s
savagery - and his own complicity in it. Horror and betrayal
ensue as Garrigan tries to right his wrongs and escape Uganda
Forest Whitaker's fearsome portrayal of former Ugandan dictator
Idi Amin saves The Last King of Scotland from collapsing under
the white man's burden, the show biz notion that white heroes
are wisest about African problems.
is decidedly the villain of the piece, as any despot who ordered
thousands of deaths should be. Whitaker makes him as frightening
as any actor could, not only for his violent temper but for
the calm, even amusing lapses into an oddly likable personality.
hearty laugh and moment of childish curiosity draws us closer,
like rats being seduced by a cobra. Each twitch of Whitaker's
wonky eye signals a madman ready to strike. This is a bravura
performance from an actor mostly known for bearish vulnerability,
unleashing danger that could erupt only from a role of invincibility.
awards and the Oscar nomination coming Whitaker's way are
deserved. The performance deserves more screen time than the
circumstances of Giles Foden's adapted novel present. Amin
is simply a key player in the journey of a fictional Scottish
doctor named Nicholas Garrigan James McAvoy, who accidentally
becomes Amin's reluctant personal physician.
(well-played with exuberant by McAvoy) arrives in Uganda from
under the thumb of his autocratic father, looking for a little
adventure and a way to do some good with his medical degree.
He first sees Amin (Forest Whitaker) when the newly installed
ruler visits the village where Garrigan is working as a clinic
physician, then has a chance to treat him following a minor
auto accident. The dictator's flashy clothes, fast cars, and
strangely deluded sense of self-effacement evoke all of the
excitement and escapism the young Scot is looking for. When
Amin offers Garrigan the job of personal doctor, the lure
ultimately proves too gaudy to refuse.
however, the shock of his own passivity jolts Garrigan into
action, the countless number of kidnappings, murders and atrocities
committed by Amin and his men more than he can ignore. With
his soul on the line, the doctor attempts to make a difference
but, in doing so, puts his own life in jeopardy. Running out
of time and with very little room for maneuvering, the foreigner
must try to get out of Uganda, wondering ceaselessly if his
prior misdeeds make him worthy of survival.
without a doubt, at the heart of it all, it is the acting
that ends up making this whole enterprise worthwhile. McAvoy
is strong as the fictional Garrigan, making him strangely
sympathetic even when his choices to follow and counsel Amin
border inexcusable. Kerry Washington gives an astonishingly
layered performance that broke my heart, while both Anderson
and British character actor Simon McBurney disappear completely
inside their roles.
there is no mistaking whose show this is, and Whitaker doesn’t
just rise to the occasion as he so much vaults clean over
the top of it. For the veteran actor, this is the best performance
of his career, keeping attention riveted with a multifaceted
titanic portrait that is undeniably Oscar-worthy. Fans who
have followed the performer through films will not be remotely
prepared for what Whitaker does here, the actor digging so
deeply inside the paranoid dictator’s marrow the total
effect of his performance borders on the horrifically unnerving.
its heart of darkness, the film is about the lure of power.
It's a condemnation of all the dictators' men over all time.
Emboldened by Whitaker's unforgettable performance, "The
Last King" daringly puts forth reasons for such complicity.
(Towering performance and spellbinding entertainment, Last
King of Scotland is filled with unexpected moments of tension
to something approaching majestic.)
by Lokman B S