YMMV / The Last King of Scotland

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Near the end, when Amin prepares to torture Nicholas to death after the latter's attempt to have Amin assassinated, he tells Nicholas that he knows about his affair with Kay. It's left ambiguous as to whether he always knew and didn't decide to kill Nicholas until his attempt on Amin's life, implying an attempt to overlook it to keep having Nicholas around, or whether he just suspected it and only fully realized it when Nicholas tried to kill him.
  • Award Snub: A lot of people felt that James McAvoy should've been nominated for his strong supporting performance. Of course, this overlooks that Nicholas is arguably the lead role despite Billing Displacement, Nicholas being the protagonist and in nearly every scene, and Amin the villain who is in the film much less. It did help that Forest Whitaker acknowledged him in basically every single acceptance speech he made (which was a lot).
  • Complete Monster: Idi Amin is a brutal dictator that takes what he wants by force. While he first comes off as a charismatic and modernizing leader to the main character, a Scottish doctor named Nicholas Garrigan, Amin brutally represses the population of Uganda throughout the film. Although he claims to be doing it to establish peace, his orders to deport people solely based on their ancestry (people from southern Asia) and murders based purely on suspicion show that he's fueled purely by his paranoia. He deliberately cuts off one of his wives and disowns the son that she bore him simply because the child was epileptic. Amin later tortures Garrigan brutally with meat hooks after discovering Garrigan's affair with the previously mentioned wife and fully intends to torture Garrigan to death.
  • Homegrown Hero: It's a movie based on the reign of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin — as told by a Scottish doctor.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Nicholas. He's perpetually selfish and conceited. He doesn't seem to care much for either of the married women he's interested in, beyond fulfilling his lust. However, finding out that one of your best friends is a mass-murdering dictator isn't decent karma. Also, watching him get tortured is brutal.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Kay's murder. You can almost see any illusions that Nicholas might have still had about Amin being completely shattered, and this is what finally pushes him into doing Stone's dubious bidding.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The fate of Kay. Not to mention Nicholas being tortured, more specifically being hung from meathooks by his nipples. Aiyee.
    • Amin's gradual Villainous Breakdown becomes increasingly frightening.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Idi Amin is of course the main selling point of the movie, and he pervades everything that happens in Uganda, but he's not actually in the movie all that much. It's not unheard of for audience members to get a little impatient with the Garrigan scenes (good though McAvoy is). In fact, the main reason why several critics disliked the film was because they felt that it should have focused primarily, if not solely, on Forest Whitaker's fantastic portrayal of Amin.
    Michelle Orange: Whitaker's riveting performance as the unraveling Amin is where this film wants to be; instead we're stuck with Garrigan's Jesus Christ pose, and the expected out that amounts to little more than, "Forget it, Nick. It's Africa."
    • One could also argue though that seeing Amin intermittently and through Nicholas' eyes made him much more terrifying. It's the same effect as Darth Vader in the original Star Wars and Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. When both would go on to become the focus character in sequels and prequels the impact was greatly diminished. In LKOS we have a terrifying character resulting in one of the least disputed best actor winners of all time.