Judi Dench Is the Bond Series' Most Divine Miss M

Judi Dench Is the Bond Series' Most Divine Miss M

Nov 09, 2012

"The Weekend Rent" offers quick-hit suggestions of what to watch at home to get psyched for new releases in theaters, on Fridays. Click on any of the film titles below to find out how you can watch the movie right now.


In case you haven't heard, Skyfallthe 23rd officially recognized Bond film—is the one Bond to rule them all. Daniel Craig returns as 007 and Javier Bardem is creepy fantastic as Raoul Silva, a former MI6 agent who seeks revenge against the people he feels have betrayed him. One of those people is the head of MI6 and Bond's commanding officer, M, played for one last time by the inimitable Judi Dench. Since M is front and center in Skyfall and takes off with Bond to the titular location to confront Silva and his goons in the film's explosive third act, now is the perfect time to celebrate one of the most memorable M's of the entire 007 series.

Those with short memories or that only hopped onboard the Bond train when Craig assumed the role may not realize that Dench also played M in the Pierce Brosnan Bond universe. Her character is based on Stella Rimington, the real-life head of MI5 between 1992 and 1996. In GoldenEyeDench's first appearance as M as well as Brosnan's first turn as Bond—M openly dislikes 007, calling him a "sexist, misogynist dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War." In 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies, M sends Bond to investigate the psychopathic media mogul Elliot Carver, memorably played by Jonathan Pryce.

Two years after Tomorrow Never Dies, M gets into the action a little more in The World Is Not Enough. This time, M assigns Bond to protect oil heiress Elektra King (Sophie Marceau) only for M to later be abducted by Elektra and held in Istanbul. Bond eventually frees M, and Dench returns a final time to play her opposite Brosnan in 2002's Die Another Day. In this movie, Bond is tortured after 14 months in captivity before M does a prisoner exchange to get him back. M then suspends Bond of his 00 status because she believes he might have leaked information under duress. M later restores Bond's double-0 status and offers her assistance when he is invited to Iceland for a scientific demonstration.

The Bond series got a reboot with 2006's Casino Royale with Daniel Craig as 007, so even though Dench returns as the head of MI6 she is not the same M of the Brosnan Bond universe. Casino Royale is set at the beginning of Bond's career when he just earned his license to kill. Dench was the only actor to return from the Brosnan Bond films, but her relationship with Craig's 007 is a little different than the disdain she often expressed toward Brosnan's Bond. In Casino Royale, M is a somewhat maternal figure in Bond's life who feels like she might have promoted her agent too soon and scolds him for his rash actions. In the follow-up, Quantum of Solace, director Marc Forster felt that Dench had been underused as M in previous movies and wanted her to interact more with Bond because she is "the only woman Bond doesn't see in a sexual context." In Quantum, Bond disobeys M repeatedly and she strips him of his passports and credit cards before he earns her trust again and she reinstates Bond as agent by the film's end.

All of the movies listed above are available on DVD, Blu-ray and/or various VOD services. Skyfall is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Categories: Features, At Home
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