Never mind Daniel Craig's debut as 007. The Kremlin is out to trump him with Agent 90-60-90, the vital statistics (in centimetres) of a glamorous Kalashnikov-toting Russian spy who saves the world in a figure-hugging latex suit.
Anastasia Zavorotnyuk, already dubbed "the Russian James Bond", is hard at work filming a multi-million-pound blockbuster with the working title Krasivaya ("The Beautiful One"). While many details of the production are being kept secret, it is known that at least part of the money comes from the Russian government.
As the tough but gorgeous Zavorotnyuk single-handedly defeats ruthless terrorists, the aim is not simply to thrill Russian moviegoers, but to inculcate patriotism and pride in the FSB security service, the successor organisation to the KGB. Judging by other Kremlin-backed films, the enemy in Krasivaya is likely to be Islamic radicals, possibly with links to Chechen separatists, with the West on the sidelines.
The film is being shot in Russia, Ukraine, France, Malaysia, Italy, Cuba and Norway, and is due to be released this autumn, the same time as Daniel Craig takes the role of 007 for the first time in a remake of Casino Royale. Though Russians enjoy James Bond movies, they do not like the way they are often portrayed as ham-fisted baddies. Krasivaya, it seems, is intended to challenge that stereotype.
Best known in Russia for her role in a popular TV series in which she plays a nanny, Zavorotnyuk underwent two months of gruelling training in combat skills before filming. In one scene, it is reported, her character - so far unnamed - plunges from the top of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, while simultaneously eliminating 40 terrorists. In another she fires the 40-tonne Tsar Cannon, which is famous for the fact that it has been in the Kremlin since the 16th century without ever having been fired in anger.
President Vladimir Putin, himself a former KGB spymaster, is said to back the effort to boost love of country and national pride with movies such as Krasivaya. The most successful in the genre so far is Lichny Nomer (Dog Tag), in which FSB Major Smolin escapes from separatist rebels in Chechnya, frees hundreds of hostages in a Moscow circus seized by terrorists, and prevents the detonation of a nuclear bomb above a Nato summit in Rome.Reuse content