Metascore
74

Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
Watch On
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  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
    90
    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. Captures the energy and exuberance of a young nation in the throes of optimism and works it into a foreboding frenzy.
  11. 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.
  12. The film as a whole measures up to Forest Whitaker's performance...one of the great performances of modern movie history.
  13. 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.
  14. Reviewed by: Stina Chyn
    80
    In addition to a very engaging script, Forrest Whitaker and James McAvoy amazingly express the tension and the camaraderie shared by Amin and Garrigan.
  15. Reviewed by: Liz Beardsworth
    80
    Both an enthralling examination of a horrific time and an adrenalin-filled thriller full of wry humour.
  16. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    75
    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.
  17. 75
    Director Kevin Macdonald has fashioned a film that is at times nearly as harrowing as his previous endeavor, "Touching the Void."
  18. 75
    The supporting cast is uniformly strong, with Simon McBurney standing out as an oily representative of the British foreign service.
  19. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    75
    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.
  20. 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.
  21. 75
    Whitaker is on fire, and as long as he's onscreen, King keeps you riveted.
  22. 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.")
  23. 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.
  24. 75
    For Whitaker's performance alone, Last King is a substantial piece of work. Otherwise, the film is estimable but not quite great.
  25. 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.
  26. Reviewed by: Howie Movshovitz
    70
    An imaginative and original picture turns conventional as it ends.
  27. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    70
    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.
  28. 70
    Whitaker, in the performance of a lifetime, makes him (Idi Amin) a charismatic madman.
  29. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    70
    An adequate thriller redeemed by Forest Whitaker's sensational turn as Idi Amin.
  30. 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.
  31. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    70
    The Last King of Scotland never rises to the standard set by Forest Whitaker's fearless (and fearsome) performance as Idi Amin.
  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."
User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 133 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 53 out of 59
  2. Negative: 2 out of 59
  1. EverrettU
    May 30, 2009
    10
    Highly rewarding drama with terrific performances.
  2. StephanieS.
    Mar 19, 2007
    2
    While Idi Amen degraded to the status of Dictator and maniacal murderer, this movie did little to establish the foundation for his rise to While Idi Amen degraded to the status of Dictator and maniacal murderer, this movie did little to establish the foundation for his rise to power. Many historically infamous individuals begin humbly and rise to rule, based upon their accurate sense of what their people desire. Idi Amen was such a person. He was a 9-time heavyweight boxing champion and sargeant in the British military, who won the support and sponsorship of the British leadership. Being an African, one can easily conclude that this support was based, to some degree, on an enormous charisma and aptitude. While his political career was rife with abuse and tyrrany, it would have been appropriate to show some of the character he had to exhibit in order to command such broad based support, both from his own people, as well as the British government. Instead, the movie brings us into the latter years of an administration and personality gone off track and tending towards the manic. This may well be true, but no dictator has ruled that has not first been given permission. In addition, the rise of the young Scottish docctor seems utterly inappropriate, given Idi Amen's proven ability to win the favor of nations and people. A person of his considerable and terrible ability would not have been as easily trusting as the Idi Amen characterized in the film. Quite honestly, he had too much personal capital at stake to entrust it to someone with so little wit or wisdom. It is believed his true mentor was a member of the British Secret Service...this makes sense. Finally, the films portrayal of the African woman was utterly disgusting. I absolutely do not believe that women oppressed as they are by their muslim traditions and/or tribal rituals, would be so easily bedded. If this is the case for the average African woman, how much more applicable to the wife of the President, a dictator, a murderer. For if she did not fear him for her own life, she would have certainly feared him for the life of her son. There is no way any reasonable mother would enter so lightly into a situation that had such daunting implications. That this film would ask us to accept such a scenario is a disgrace to every mother of African decent, down to Margaret Garner, who attempted to kill her own children vs. see them sold into slavery. This portryal is a betrayal of the truth. I am disappointed that in 2007, we still have little tolerance for the truth regarding people of color. We are not beasts with passions like unto animals in heat or enraged, but a complex, human creation...sometimes touching the heavens and othertimes at the very gates of hell, but nonetheless human like unto all. Full Review »
  3. May 4, 2015
    8
    Idi Amin was one of the worst people to ever walk the Earth but because he was the ruler of Uganda many people in North America knew nothingIdi Amin was one of the worst people to ever walk the Earth but because he was the ruler of Uganda many people in North America knew nothing about him. Big Forest Whitaker is the ideal man to play Amin and he really does resemble him in the film. Whitaker gets a well deserved Oscar winning performance in this film. The further the film goes the movie evil he becomes. James McAvoy also gets my attention in this movie. His performance is a great rival to Whitaker's and he shows a lot of potential which I don't think has reached fully yet. David Oyelowo had a strong performance as well but sadly he was underused. Some of the issues I had with this film where that sometimes McAvoy gets a bit too much of the attention. The character McAvoy is playing was fictional and sometimes he took time away from Amin who was the real man. Also I found the film very graphic so if you have a weak stomach I would sit this movie out. After I thought about it though the film does need to be disturbing so the audience can be aware of Amin's evil. Full Review »