Xenia Onatopp: The Unforgettable Femme Fatale of GoldenEye
Colonel Xenia Zaragevna Onatopp, a former Soviet fighter-pilot turned ruthless assassin for the Janus crime syndicate, is a character of sexual sociopathy, infamous in the James Bond universe. This femme fatale takes everything to the extreme, making Xenia Onatopp one of the most memorable characters in the Bond franchise.
First appearing in EON Productions’ 1995 film GoldenEye, Dutch actress Famke Janssen’s portrayal of Onatopp extended to several video games, including the best selling GoldenEye 007 and GoldenEye: Rogue Agent.
Hailing from what was once the Soviet republic of Georgia, Xenia Onatopp serves as a fighter pilot in the Soviet Air Force. Following the dissolution of the USSR, she aligns herself with the Janus crime syndicate, under the command of the rogue MI6 agent, Alec Trevelyan.
In her role as a brutal enforcer and killer, she’s uniquely drawn to derive erotic pleasure from the act of killing by asphyxiation. Proficient in martial arts, she possesses significant physical power. And as a seasoned aviator, she skillfully pilots a pilfered EMP-protected helicopter.
We first see Xenia Onatopp as she engages in a thrilling car chase in her Ferrari F355 GTS with James Bond in his Aston Martin DB5 through the mountain roads near Monte Carlo.
Their paths cross again at a casino where Bond grows suspicious of her due to her penchant for lavish cars with counterfeit plates and her questionable association with Canadian Navy admiral, Chuck Farrel.
To confirm his suspicions, he places her under surveillance and requests a background investigation from MI6. That evening, Onatopp seduces the admiral onto the Janus-operated yacht, Manticore, where she kills him during sex by employing her lethal thigh grip.
As she’s killing him, her Janus cohort, Russian General Ourumov, steals the admiral’s credentials.
The following day, Xenia Onatopp and Ourumov use the stolen credentials to infiltrate a military ship that houses the prototype Eurocopter Tiger helicopter, scheduled for a test flight. They kill the test pilots, assume their identities, and abscond with the helicopter.
Disguised as a Colonel, Onatopp accompanies Ourumov to a military bunker in Severnaya, Siberia. Ourumov, head of the Space Division, procures the control disk for GoldenEye, a potent electromagnetic satellite weapon from the Cold War era.
On receiving the disk, Onatopp ruthlessly guns down the staff, taking perverse pleasure in the act, much to Ourumov’s distaste. They activate the GoldenEye to obliterate the complex and flee with the treacherous programmer Boris Grishenko. The only survivor, Natalya Simonova, arranges to meet Grishenko in St. Petersburg, but Xenia Onatopp and Boris kidnap her.
Bond, assigned to investigate the Russian incident, flies to St. Petersburg and organizes a meeting with the elusive Janus through crime lord Valentin Zukovsky. Onatopp attempts to ambush Bond at the Grand Hotel Europe’s pool, but he outwits her, holding her at gunpoint.
Although she tries to seduce him, Bond rebuffs her. During the ensuing struggle, Onatopp tries to kill him using her lethal thigh grip, but Bond manages to drop her into a hot water vat, recover his gun, and forces her to take him to Janus.
Onatopp drives Bond to a deserted statue scrapyard, claiming that Janus awaits him there. After incapacitating her, Bond approaches the Tiger helicopter in the distance, where he encounters Janus, who reveals himself as Trevelyan, a former colleague, who attempts to kill Bond.
Afterwards, Bond chases Ourumov, who has abducted Natalya and boarded Janus’ modified Missile Train. With a plan to derail the train, 007 operates his tank on the tracks, much to Onatopp’s amusement.
As expected, the train derails and Bond, armed with a Kalashnikov Rifle, enters the wreckage to confront the stunned occupants. An unarmed Onatopp and Trevelyan use Natalya, held at gunpoint by Ourumov, to negotiate their safety.
When Bond feigns indifference towards Natalya, Trevelyan signals for her execution and flees with Onatopp, allowing Bond to shoot Ourumov. As Trevelyan and Onatopp make their helicopter escape, they lock Bond and Natalya in the train and set it to self-destruct. Despite their efforts, Bond and Natalya survive, and Natalya locates Janus’ Cuban base before the train explodes.
In the ensuing events, Trevelyan and Onatopp leave Russia for Cuba, with British and American intelligence agencies on their tail. While Bond and Natalya are searching for the GoldenEye’s satellite dish, their plane is shot down, and they crash in the Cuban jungle.
Xenia Onatopp abseils down from a helicopter and assaults Bond. As she gets him in her lethal thigh grip, she mockingly tells him that this time, the pleasure will be entirely hers, referring to a recurring joke between them. Despite his struggles, Bond starts succumbing to her deadly embrace, but Natalya intervenes, hitting Onatopp with a branch.
Ignoring Natalya’s attack, Onatopp grabs her and headbutts her, knocking Natalya down. This distraction allows Bond to reattach her jump rope and use her rifle to take out the helicopter crew above.
The helicopter then crashes down, pulling Onatopp’s jump rope up, sending her flying backward, and she’s caught between two oddly-shaped branches, crushing her to death. Bond and Natalya gaze at her lifeless body, with Bond smirking, “She always did enjoy a good squeeze.”
Famke Janssen, born on November 5, 1964, is a Dutch actress and director best known for her role as Dr. Jean Grey in the X-Men franchise. Before acting, she pursued a successful modeling career with Elite Model Management.
She transitioned to acting in the early 1990s, garnering attention for her role as Xenia Onatopp in the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye. In 2000, she was cast in the X-Men series, winning a Saturn Award for her performance as the character Phoenix in X-Men: The Last Stand.
Janssen has directed and starred in various films and TV series, and was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in 2008.