Forest Whitaker is the red-hot favourite to win this year's Academy Award as Best Actor In A Leading Role for his searing portrayal of Idi Amin in Kevin Macdonald's thriller, based on the novel by Giles Foden.

It's a virtuoso performance of intensity and fury, leavened with humour, giving us an insight into a so-called man of the people who managed to charm the world's media while his country witnessed unspeakable atrocities.

When Amin swept to power in 1971 in a coup against the corrupt Milton Obote, the people of Uganda looked forward to the dawning of a prosperous new age.

Their newly anointed leader - a former soldier and boxer with boundless drive and enthusiasm - spoke passionately about the creation of a self-sufficient, independent state, which would become the pride of Africa.

Foreign officials, not least the British Foreign Office, heralded Amin's rise to power with words of optimism and praise.

But once Amin took control of Uganda, the horrific truth slowly became clear as the dictator used violence and intimidation indiscriminately to cling onto power, reportedly slaughtering more than 300,000 of his people.

The Last King Of Scotland experiences the rise of Amin through the eyes of a fictitious doctor, Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), who becomes the president's personal physician and is welcomed with open arms into the inner circle of the charismatic leader.

Abandoning his post at a mission clinic run by Dr Merrit (Adam Kotz) and his wife Sarah (Anderson), Nicholas moves to Kampala to attend to Amin and to lead the staff of the capital's impressive new hospital.

Nicholas is quickly seduced by his host's wealth and power, and is even more taken with Kay ( Kerry Washington), one of Amin's pretty, young wives, who has been ostracised because her son suffers from epilepsy.

An illicit affair between Nicholas and Kay finally reveals the brutal, unforgiving man behind Amin's media facade.

As the body count rises and the earth is stained with the blood of innocents, the doctor fears for his own life in a country teetering on the brink of anarchy and he prepares to flee the country to escape Amin and his vicious henchmen.

The Last King Of Scotland begins rather gently but soon gathers dramatic momentum, and the final 20 minutes are a tour de force demonstration in edge-of-seat suspense, replete with scenes of sickening violence.

Whitaker's verbal fireworks blow everyone else off screen and McAvoy struggles to make an impact as the good man in Africa, who pays a terrible price for his disloyalty.

Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock's screenplay provides Washington and Anderson with little emotional meat to sink their teeth into.

Macdonald shoots the film in Uganda, using many authentic locations including the Parliament building, the Mulago Hospital and Entebbe Airport where the climactic hostage crisis unfolds.