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Bond And M

By Alyssa Rosenberg  

"Bond And M"

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I’m feeling sort of meh about the next Bond movie. After Casino Royale gave us a plot with actual relevance, as much drama when Bond wasn’t committing acts of violence as when he was, and a Bond Woman in Eva Green as opposed to a Bond Girl, Quantum of Solace regressed to loud nonsense and eye candy. But one thing in the description of Skyfall did catch my eye: “Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her.”

I thought that one of the things Casino Royale did best was to reboot the relationship between Bond and M as a somewhat maternal one, albeit one that’s riddled with prickles. That initial scene where he breaks into her apartment to rifle through databases that are closed to them has the air of a mother exasperated with an inconveniently precocious child. When she scolds him after his tropical misadventure, he’s a teenager she needs to give a leash to, but she’s keeping an eye on him. And after Vesper’s death, when Bond tells her curtly that “The job’s done, the bitch is dead,” it’s understood between them how badly he is wounded. Part of the fun with Bond, of course, is his appeal to women, but it was a relief to see a sustained relationship in there, and one that’s based on intellect, wit, and the work.

I also just think that Judi Dench’s work as M has been superb. I will admit that I appreciate it when someone as accomplished and talented as she is shows some affection for tacky action movies like the Bond Franchise and the Riddick movies. Rewarding her for transforming a kind of thankless role by giving her a substantive backstory should be fun for her — and for us.

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