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?
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