"I am the father of this nation, Nicholas. And you have most... grossly... offended your father..."
The Last King of Scotland is a critically acclaimed 2006 Film of the Book which fictionalizes the rise and fall of Idi Amin, the infamous dictator from Uganda.The movie starts with the protagonist, Nicholas Garrigan, who rebels against his father by leaving to work as a doctor in Uganda. While working in a missionary hospital in Uganda and being hot for the married Sarah Meritt, The Casanova Garrigan meets Idi Amin, a charismatic general who is so impressed with him that he appoints him to become his personal doctor. Soon Idi Amin descends from (seemingly) being an Anti-Hero and Affably Evil to a Bad Boss and The Caligula. Nicholas Garrigan plays the role of a Wide-Eyed Idealist, first by overlooking a lot of Amin's bloodthirsty antics by convincing himself that it is necessary to bring peace to Uganda, and believing that things would get better as Amin's enemies are eliminated. Unsurprisingly, he is wrong. It does not help that he falls in love with Amin's youngest and discarded wife Kay, which soon leads him in a confrontation.
This movie contains examples of:
Adult Fear: Nicholas' situation. Imagine if you were friends with someone who's the leader of a nation and then they are being accused of being a dictator. Naturally you defend them, but what would you do when the accusations turn out to be facts and you watch your friend become unstable to the point where he'll kill anyone who does something he doesn't like, including you yourself?
The thought of being trapped in a foreign country with no way to get out—it doesn't help that there are numerous Real Life horror stories about this.
All Girls Want Bad Boys: Every female, single or married, in the movie seems to hit on Garrigan. Also, Amin had three wives, but they probably did not have much of a choice.
An Offer You Can't Refuse: After he's done humiliating Nicholas for not believing him about Amin's atrocities sooner, Stone offers his help... in exchange for assassinating Amin. Subverted in the fact that Nicholas initially refuses to do so, before Kay's brutal murder proves to be the final straw for him and pushes him into action.
Antagonist Title: Brutal dictator Idi Amin is the eponymous Last King of Scotland referred to by the film's title (which was a real life title he took for himself). Nick Garrigan is the protagonist.
Batman Gambit: Done by Nicholas in order to kill Amin. It doesn't work and the consequences for doing so are not to be envied.
Bait the Dog: The central theme of the movie, both for Nicholas, and the audience.
Billing Displacement: The central character is Nicholas. Yet the most remembered part is of course Forest Whitaker's Idi Amin. Whitaker is also billed first even though MacAvoy is in much more of the movie.
Black and Gray Morality: Nicholas is initially deeply contemptuous of the Smug Snake British diplomat Stone, but while Stone is clearly someone with ambiguous ethics himself, it quickly becomes apparent that Amin is a thousand times worse. Unfortunately, Nicholas' earlier contempt and blindness comes back to bite him, since Stone makes it clear that he is going to demand a high price in exchange for his help in getting Nicholas out of the country. Nicholas himself is also not a paragon, being a rather selfish, naive and venal man for much of the movie.
Body Double: Amin uses one to briefly to trick Nicholas when he comes to talk to him.
Bittersweet Ending: Well, since this is a biography, many people know that in the end, Amin was overthrown. However, considering what happened in the movie and the fact that the demise of Amin's regime is only mentioned in the credits, it's not exactly a happy ending. For Nicholas, it's more of a Downer Ending.
Broken Pedestal: Slowly but surely, Nicholas becomes disillusioned and then disgusted with Amin, the man he initially held in high esteem.
One can probably guess that Kay's son Mackenzie, who Nicholas saved once, would also count for this trope considering the fact that Nicholas essentially caused his mother to be killed gruesomely at the hands of his father. It doesn't really help that when Nicholas finds Kay's body in the hospital, Mackenzie is giving him a look that screams "this is your fault, isn't it?".
Fan Disservice: Kay's body is found completely naked. Aside from the standard "dead bodies are Squicky" effect, there's also the fact that her arms and legs have swapped positions, resulting in a grotesque figure.
Fatal Flaw: Nicholas's naivety. Also, his desire for risks and adventure; throughout the movie, he keeps making rejecting the safe (and in his mind, boring) option in favour of something more risky and exciting, only for it to become increasingly clear as things get much worse for him that he really should have stayed with the safe option.
Hannibal Lecture: Amin gives one to Nicholas, after finding out that the latter had an affair with the former's wife Kay. Amin derides Nicholas for thinking that everything is a game, and telling him that Nicholas' death may be the first real thing that happens to him. See also Mighty Whitey below.
Heroic Sacrifice: Essentially what Dr. Junju does, healing Nicholas (tortured for betrayed Amin), freeing him, and secretly sending him on a plane out of Uganda knowing the consequences and simply saying "I don't know" when asked why he did it. And one of Amin's men promptly shoots him in the head.
Hypocrite: When Nicholas tries to convince Amin not to exile the Indians, Amin ridicules him for begging for his "fucking Asian tailors" also says that he's a nobody. When the media has a field day with this fact, Amin says that he should have never done that and asks Nicholas why he didn't convince him not to, saying that he's his "personal advisor".
In Film Nickname: Stone informs Nicholas that the public refers to him as "Amin's white monkey".
I Am A Humanitarian: Jokingly invoked by Amin himself during the first formal dinner scene. Also, rumours about Amin's cannibalism are given a nod.
Jerkass Has a Point: Stone, the Smug Snake British Foreign Office representative that Garrigan hates, eventually turns out to be right about Amin's brutality. In no way is he nice about making his point to Nicholas when the doctor comes for his help after Amin replaces Nicholas' British passport with a Ugandan one to prevent him from escaping. and tells him that the only way he'll help is if Nicholas does his bidding.
Kill 'em All: The only major characters left alive at the end of the film are Amin and Garrigan.
Killed Mid-Sentence: Dr. Junju, for helping Nicholas out of Uganda. One of Amin's men shoots him in the head, just as he mentions his wife.
Mighty Whitey: Subverted and/or deconstructed. Nicholas believes, at first, that he can solve Uganda's problems (well, at least some of them), but fails miserably. Lampshaded towards the end, when Amin admonishes Nicholas for trying to "play the "white man and the natives" game".
In Nicholas' partial defense, he only went to Uganda because he randomly pointed to a spinning globe. However, Uganda was his second spin; Canada was his first spin. Should have gone with the safe option.
Played straight in the end, when Dr. Junju says his reason for helping Nicholas to escape is so that Nicholas can tell the world of Amin's atrocities, saying that they will believe him because he is a white man.
Also how the two of them meet: Nick and Sara get pulled over by soldiers looking for a doctor after Amin is injured in a car accident with a cow. Turns out Amin only sprained his hand, but the way he and his guards act, you's think he had been severely injured—he even later introduces Nicholas as "the man who saved my life".
Mood-Swinger: Amin can go from affable to bloodthirsty to paranoid and to depressed. As he is shown to be The Caligula it is just a matter of time.
New Era Speech: In his first scene, Amin delivers a rousing speech about how things are going to improve under his leadership.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The guy Nicholas reports and accidentally gets murdered was actually just trying to bring more medicine to uganda.
Oh Crap: Nicholas has several of these; First when he discovers that Amin replaced his British passport with a Ugandan one, then when Stone shows him all the atrocities that's happening in the countryside and what Amin did to eliminate his opposition, then when he findsKay's body and finally, there's when his Batman Gambit to kill Amin fails and when Amin tells him that he knows about his affair with Kay.
Amin: ...or are you like all the other British? Just here to fuck, and then take away?
Properly Paranoid: Definitely averted by Amin, but played straight with Nicholas, who tries to find a way to get out of Uganda without being seen by Amin's men, who were ordered by Amin himself to prevent this.
Shut Up, Hannibal!: Continuing on from the "Hannibal Lecture" cited above, after Amin's men have pummeled Garrigan and are about to severely torture him, Amin (with arguable degrees of accuracy) accuses him of being a white man who came to Africa as if it were all a game, to screw the local women and act like it was a giant vacation. Whatever Garrigan's personal faults might be, his retort to this is to finally state to Amin's face what none of his inner circle ever had the courage to point out, no matter how ridiculously obvious it increasingly became: "You are a child".
Tested On Humans: Amin's bodyguard forces a Child Soldier to swallow one of the poisoned headache pills Garrigan had prepared for Amin, causing Garrigan to give himself away.
Title Drop: Amin, who has an affinity for Scottish culture, refers to himself as "The Last King of Scotland" in one of his speeches.
Too Dumb to Live: Sleeping with Amin's wife, after you've seen what he's capable of? Not making every effort to conceal your affair? Not using protection, leading to her pregnancy and subsequent death? Sorry, Nicholas, you brought what follows on yourself.
He continued to see her even before he found out she was pregnant.
Not to mention completely ignoring that Amin was committing bald-faced atrocities on his own people, in lieu of accepting Amin's explanation that cracking down on Obote's remaining supporters will bring a lasting peace to the country and that the guy was utterly insane (Though to be fair, Amin's Affably Evil nature did a good job masking his insanity up until the middle of the movie).
Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Amin (if not so much in looks, definitely in personality) and Kay (presumably the other of his wives as well)
The Unfavorite: Kay, the youngest of Amin's three wives. She was exiled by Amin because she gave birth to an epileptic son.
Kay: He visits the children. Not me. He thinks that I am a bad omen.