Prayer Focus
Click here to watch THE HOPE on-line!
Oscar®Oscar® Winner for Actor in a Leading Role—Forest Whitaker

Movie Review

The Last King of Scotland

MPAA Rating: R for some strong violence and gruesome images, sexual content and language

Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
Add to your list?
View your list
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Historical, Drama, Thriller, Biography, Adaptation
Length:
2 hr. 3 min.
Year of Release:
2006
USA Release:
September 27, 2006
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures

sin

murder

fornication and adultery

Issue of pain and suffering

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

The Origin of bad—How did bad things come about? Answer

What kind of world would you create? Answer

Featuring: Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson, Simon McBurney
Director: Kevin MacDonald
Producer: Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich, Tessa Ross
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

“Charming. Magnetic. Murderous.”

At the start of “The Last King of Scotland” we meet young Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy, “The Chronicles of Narnia”), a recent med school graduate from Scotland who is eager to get away from his father and make a name for himself in the world. He spins his globe and decides that wherever his finger lands, he will go. Thus, he finds himself in Uganda, working in a small village hospital with a husband and wife doctor team (Adam Kotz and Gillian Anderson). The country is in transition, as a new president is taking over, and word spreads that the president is coming to their village to speak. Nicholas is curious to see this new president, so he goes to the rally and cheers along with the villagers as Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker, “Panic Room”) takes the stage, a towering man of great passion who immediately wins over the audience and Nicholas.

Through an interesting series of events, Nicholas and President Amin meet and hit it off, primarily because of Amin’s fondness for all things Scot. Amin makes Nicholas his personal doctor and exposes him to the finer things of Uganda, and also to the lifestyle of the elite, which Nicholas loves. Amin continues to pamper Nicholas, and promotes him to the position of his closest advisor. However, Amin’s opponents and adversaries begin disappearing, with some winding up dead, and Nicholas starts to question whether President Amin is really the man he makes himself out to be.

“The Last King of Scotland” is based on a book of the same name released around 1998, and is based around fact. From what I have read and heard, the film and book are based on a real series of events, but much of film and story have been fictionalized for theatrical purposes.

The content in “The Last King of Scotland” is extreme in just about every category, which makes it a film most Christians will likely want to avoid. Nicholas is very fond of women, even strangers, married or not. He attempts to have an affair with the doctor’s wife (she turns down his advances), and then does have an affair with one of Amin’s wives. He also has sex with a stranger he meets on a bus. There is plenty of nudity, both male and female, and some graphic sex scenes with sounds. We also see a group of men watching a pornographic movie, but we only hear sounds and don’t see any nudity.

There wasn’t much language in the film until about the halfway mark, then the f-words come flying left and right. There are other profane words used throughout the film, but most Christians will be very offended by the two times the name of Jesus Christ is used with the f-word inserted between the name. Had this been any old movie, and I wasn’t reviewing it, the use of that phrase would have caused me to walk out of the movie. The violence in the film is very graphic and bloody, and I cannot emphasize enough that this film is not for the squeamish. There are plenty of shootings, and killings, but we also see a number of mutilated bodies, one of which will likely stick in your head for a few days. We also see a man hooked from a ceiling by his skin. Needless to say, this is an adults-only movie, and one that Christians will want to really think twice about before going to see.

As I watched Idi Amin’s character balance between beloved President, and ruthless, paranoid dictator, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Antichrist, whoever that may be. The Bible talks about how the Antichrist will win over the world with his talk of peace and unity and his plans for making everything better, and everyone will love him and take him at his word. It’s easy to watch movies like this and ask, “How could somebody believe those lies or fall for someone like this, you can see right through him?” But we know from what the Bible teaches that this will happen again, on a much grander scale, and as Christians it is our duty to warn people and win them to Christ so that they don’t have to experience what is to come.

I cannot recommend “The Last King of Scotland” to Christian audiences. Granted, it is a powerful film, with tense, edge-of-your-seat scenes and fantastic performances. Forest Whitaker is simply magnificent as Idi Amin, and is mesmerizing as he is able to go from sweet and endearing to vicious and evil at the drop of a hat. His performance is the most chilling I have seen since Ralph Fiennes’ performance in “Schindler’s List,” and Whitaker most certainly deserves all the awards he has received. But the film leaves a sour taste in your mouth. It is in no way a pleasant movie, and is devoid of the obligatory happy endings we have become used to. Nicholas’ character is not one we root for either, so basically we sit back and watch a bad person get sucked into a bad situation by a madman, and only bad things can come from that. This is absolutely not a movie you should let a child or teenager anywhere near, and one that Christian adults should prayerfully consider before deciding to see.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—…This film is based on a real events and therefore it’s not supposed to necessarily be pleasant or have a happy ending. Indeed, I watched the film and felt very queasy, but I’m glad I saw it. It is a necessary reminder that atrocities like these are committed all over the world which we are told about it every day in newspapers. Yet statistics don’t seem to produce the same sympathy and compassion for people who are suffering like this as a film can. Having seen this film I’ve noticed what I’ve taken for granted such as freedom and safety and I would watch it again.
My Ratings: Average / 4½
—TG, age 21
Positive—Idi Amin is depicted in such a magnificent and true to life manner. The viewer falls love and hates the Character at the same time . This film is based on history, which is why I do not mind the “sour” taste it leaves in ones mouth. The events are chilling and the story compelling. For any historical story there are evils that must be told to receive full comprehension. Though there are scenes with nudity and an over use of language, which is there to depict real life not a Christian sub-culture, the movie brings up many wonderful questions such as (but not limited to);

“How can power corrupt those with good intentions”
“How do we measure the line between tyrant and revolutionary”
“Where were Christians while all this was going on in Uganda?”
“How often does evil mask itself as good and how often are we manipulated?”
“What should have been done in this situation? And what should we do in the future?”


I would not give this movie to just anyone. It is not a family movie; it is not a casual date movie; it is not a pop-culture movie. It is for the intelligent movie goer (Christians or non-Christian), therefore if you want to just sit down and veg while watching a movie, don’t watch this movie. But if have the maturity (not everyone does and that is O.K.), then I would suggest you watch this movie with a critical and contemplative eye.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Joshua Canada, age 22
Negative
Negative—I would not advise anyone to see this movie. There is explicit nudilty (male and female), a gruesome torture scene, incredibily realistic pictures of mutilated bodies, not to mention the offensive language. I saw the movie with some friends because we were all interested in the story line, but I wish I would have opted for a documentary. My advice is to stay far away.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 4
—Rachel Hopkins, age 22