Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. Unlike Sean Penn's demagogue in "All the King's Men," you're able to forget that Whitaker is acting. He embodies the role. When clips of the real Amin are shown at the end, it's almost shocking to realize the extent to which Whitaker has become him.
  2. 100
    Of course no Western director can make a movie about Africa without being accused of colonialism himself, and some critics have faulted The Last King of Scotland for focusing on its white hero as black corpses pile up around him. But although the movie takes place on an international political stage, it's still a drama of individual allegiance.
  3. 91
    Jumping off from the brilliant novel by Giles Foden and changing a key character entirely, it dramatizes and wrings humor from the way a white Western renegade can view a self-made Third World despot like Amin as a superman blowing fresh air into a fetid atmosphere.
  4. The film is phenomenally well directed by Kevin Macdonald and edited by Justine Wright to bring out every bit of scary volatility in the most casual interactions.
  5. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Forest Whitaker, uncorking the power that he usually holds in check, gives a chilling, bravura performance as Ugandan tyrant Idi Amin, whose bloody regime slaughtered more than 300,000 people. This intelligent, sometimes gruesome thriller is based on a novel by Giles Foden.
  6. 88
    The Last King of Scotland is a parable shocking in its truth, jolting in its lack of sentimentality, Shakespearean in its vision of the doctor's catastrophic flaw.
  7. Drawing on a documentary visual style he deftly employed in "One Day in September" and "Touching the Void," director Kevin Macdonald uses McAvoy's boyishness to treat Garrigan's apolitical foolishness as yet another damn mess in one African country's hell.
  8. Whitaker is terrifying in a way that we recognize not from old movies but from life.
  9. The movie is an extraordinary personal adventure that views everything through the eyes of its hero as it carries him from one apocalyptic situation to another.
  10. Reviewed by: Stina Chyn
    In addition to a very engaging script, Forrest Whitaker and James McAvoy amazingly express the tension and the camaraderie shared by Amin and Garrigan.
  11. Reviewed by: Liz Beardsworth
    Both an enthralling examination of a horrific time and an adrenalin-filled thriller full of wry humour.
  12. 80
    This is a wonderful, horrifying performance: Whitaker doesn't take the easy way out by playing Amin as a killer clown, a treacherous buffoon.
  13. Captures the energy and exuberance of a young nation in the throes of optimism and works it into a foreboding frenzy.
  14. The film as a whole measures up to Forest Whitaker's of the great performances of modern movie history.
  15. Macdonald has a fetching feel for the continent, and the movie has a powerful sense of what Africa looks and feels like; you can almost smell it.
  16. 75
    Whitaker is on fire, and as long as he's onscreen, King keeps you riveted.
  17. The director is Kevin Macdonald, a documentary filmmaker making his fiction film feature debut. (He won an Oscar for his Munich Olympics hostage chronicle, "One Day in September.")
  18. 75
    Director Kevin Macdonald, an accomplished maker of documentaries making his feature-film debut, gives The Last King of Scotland the pace and crackle of a thriller, albeit a thriller with substance.
  19. The story is fanciful, with grotesquely improbable twists involving the fictional Garrigan (James McAvoy) and one of the dictator's three wives (Kerry Washington). But as Amin, Forest Whitaker's command of the screen is so thorough, so frightening, so ripe with malice that you won't move in your seat for fear of catching his eye.
  20. Great as Whitaker is in this juicy slab of Oscar bait, Macdonald's movie doesn't have much to offer beyond a pair of stunning performances, propulsive editing, fantastic scenery and the heartbeat rhythms of African music.
  21. 75
    The supporting cast is uniformly strong, with Simon McBurney standing out as an oily representative of the British foreign service.
  22. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Forest Whitaker is astoundingly multifaceted and convincing as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. In the performance of his career, he fully inhabits the part of the barbaric and charismatic ruler.
  23. 75
    Director Kevin Macdonald has fashioned a film that is at times nearly as harrowing as his previous endeavor, "Touching the Void."
  24. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    Whitaker's Amin is the kind of raging lunatic that only an actor who has made a specialty of quiet caginess could pull off so convincingly. It's great, and scary, to see Whitaker turn it up to 11 for once.
  25. 75
    For Whitaker's performance alone, Last King is a substantial piece of work. Otherwise, the film is estimable but not quite great.
  26. Reviewed by: Howie Movshovitz
    An imaginative and original picture turns conventional as it ends.
  27. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    An adequate thriller redeemed by Forest Whitaker's sensational turn as Idi Amin.
  28. Furiously paced, with excellent performances by Forest Whitaker as Amin and James McAvoy as the foolish Scotsman who becomes the leader's personal physician, the film has texture, if not depth and enough intelligence to almost persuade you that it actually has something of note to say.
  29. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    The Last King of Scotland never rises to the standard set by Forest Whitaker's fearless (and fearsome) performance as Idi Amin.
  30. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    In the end, The Last King of Scotland is much better when it plays it cool and amusing than when it tries to ramp up outrage and indignation.
  31. 70
    Whitaker, in the performance of a lifetime, makes him (Idi Amin) a charismatic madman.
  32. 67
    The Last King Of Scotland makes a stronger case when it's demonstrating how opulent power-lunches corrupt absolutely.
  33. Unfortunately, despite a committed and lively performance, McAvoy's Scottish doctor is fictional, an amalgam of Amin's "white monkeys."
  34. 50
    The Last King of Scotland joins the ranks of nightmarish innocents-abroad movies, from "Midnight Express" to "Hostel," where the disillusioned hero fights to return to civility.
  35. Besides its title, the movie has retained the book's outline...But the film throws away the point of the book completely.
  36. This veteran actor is always great, and it's just a little bit sad that he has to play a big, scary demon for us to sit up and finally take notice.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 114 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 52 out of 58
  2. Negative: 2 out of 58
  1. Aug 24, 2013
    The movie presents enough of what is realistic to make this story seem interesting. Forest Whitaker is absorbed into the role, perhaps more intimidating than the real Idi Amin. He manages to make people overlook his teddy bear face to see the terror of Idi Amin and what he caused. Full Review »
  2. Aug 12, 2013
    In the early 1970’s Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan headed to Uganda to help bring medical aid to poverty-stricken locals. He soon he finds himself hired as Idi Amin’s personal physician but quickly discovers the dictators’ charms hide his murderous regime.

    The first half of movie provides a meaty examination of Amin’s savagely violent regime. His false charm quickly gives way to his true nature and Forrest Whitaker gives an excellent portrayal of the dictator coming across as the eccentric and truly terrifying man that he was. Once Garrigan becomes aware of what is really going on in the country the movie becomes more of a thriller than character study as he attempts to escape with his life. Some of the scenes towards the movies end are perhaps a little Hollywood and not completely fitting with the movies original tone. They are however still undeniably exciting and with James McAvoy giving an assured performance throughout The Last King of Scotland is certainly an interesting and entertaining movie.
    Full Review »
  3. Jun 28, 2013
    Wow, this movie remembers you how people like Amin comes in different countries, but in the same way. The plot is about a guy, that actually didn't exist, it's because (I think) the director wanted to show the events from a different point of view, a "white" man working for the president. This film is really good, there are no regrets. Full Review »