Skip to main content

Prison breaks

I planned my escapes like a movie heist


When Rédoine Faïd became France’s most wanted man, it was in the style of the cinema he loved. In the 1990s he and his crew robbed a jewellery store in black suits, evoking Reservoir Dogs. They used an armoured truck and wore ski masks, a tribute to Heat. Between spells in jail, he thanked Heat’s director, Michael Mann, at a Q&A in Paris.

But it was Faïd’s prison breaks that dazzled France, says Adam Leith Gollner in GQ. In 2013 he escaped from a prison near Lille, a few months into a 53-year sentence. With a smuggled gun and explosives, he took four guards hostage, blasted through five armoured doors and drove off in a waiting car. Faïd later said he planned his escape like a “mise-en-scène – soigné, efficient, precise”.

“The Magician” was apprehended six weeks later and sent to the “impregnable” Réau prison, south of Paris, where even the guards called him “a star”. Then, on 1 July 2018, three armed accomplices landed a hijacked helicopter within the prison walls and whisked him away in front of “stupefied” staff. Faïd gave a military salute as he boarded the chopper.

But the country’s largest-ever manhunt proved successful. Faïd was soon spotted in nearby Creil, disguised in a burqa. Now 49, he is awaiting trial in solitary confinement and hasn’t touched another human being in two years. Are the end credits rolling on his life of crime?

Read the full story here.