The capture of the alleged Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger — a man who was wanted in connection with 19 murders, on the lam for 16 years, and No. 1 on the FBI’s Most Wanted List following the death of Osama bin Laden — sounds like a moment ripped right from a Martin Scorsese picture.
In a way, it’s the other way around. “The Departed” — the film that won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Picture and finally earned Scorsese what many felt was his overdue Oscar as best director — featured a character based, in part, on Bulger.
That, of course, was the role played by Jack Nicholson, the ruthless, arrogant mob captain named Frank Costello, which happens to be the name of a completely different Mafia leader who was once based in New York, not Boston. (The movie, as cinema experts will recall, is also based on another film, the Hong Kong thriller “Infernal Affairs.")
This is hardly the first time a high-profile participant in organized crime has inspired a film character. Al Capone did it countless times, perhaps most notably when Robert De Niro played him in “The Untouchables.” Henry Hill did it in another Scorsese film, “Goodfellas,” where Ray Liotta brought him to life.And the drug smuggling Frank Lucas was portrayed by Denzel Washington in “American Gangster.” That’s just to name a few. But it’s rare for someone to be captured after a film that he partially inspired has already been released.
Perhaps that’s why ”The Departed” has suddenly become the No. 5 movie in the Netflix top 100 and a trending topic on Google.
Watch Nicholson as Costello in “The Departed” below: