In the early 1970s, looking for adventure after medical school, handsome young Scottish physician Nicholas Garrigan (McAvoy) travels to Uganda to join a rural medical team. During a roadside crisis involving General Idi Amin (Whitaker), Garrigan impresses the new president with a brazen act and is hand-picked to become Amin's personal physician and closest adviser. Slowly, Garrigan comes to understand that Amin, though charismatic, is a savage and genocidal dictator responsible for butchering everyone who opposes his will. But how to get out from under?
Anchored by Whitaker's fearsome performance as the charming yet volatile tyrant, MacDonald's searing adaptation of Giles Foden's novel contrasts Garrigan's freewheeling youthfulness with the harsh realities of Amin's beleaguered Uganda. McAvoy's doctor is cheeky and reckless, bedding Amin's wife (Washington) when he feels trapped, but Nicholas is also ill-served by his own political naiveté. Great support from Simon McBurney and Gillian Anderson lend further complexity to this stylishly directed and phenomenally well-acted dramatic thriller, based on a true story.