- "My late husband was a great lover of poetry, and, um, I suppose some of it sunk in despite my best intentions. And here today, I remember this, I think from Tennyson. "We are not now that strength, which in old days moved Earth and Heaven. That which we are, we are. One equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate. But strong in will, to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.""
- ― M in Skyfall.
"M" (December 9, 1934 - November 1, 2012), is a fictional character in Ian Fleming's James Bond series; the character is the Head of Secret Intelligence Service—also known as MI6. After the long period between Licence to Kill (1989) and GoldenEye (1995), the Bond producers brought in Dame Judi Dench to take over as the new M. Dench played the role of M throughout actor Pierce Brosnan's tenure as Bond. Following Brosnan's departure from the role of 007 and the rebooting of the franchise with the 2006 film Casino Royale which starred Daniel Craig as Bond, she continued to perform the character of M for a further three films, and appeared in a video message in Spectre (2015).
Dench's M was never referred to by name on-screen. However, a prop from the final scene of 2012's Skyfall, where M bequeaths some of her possessions to Bond following her death, revealed that her character was given the name "Olivia Mansfield". As the character was never directly referred to by this name, its canonicity is unresolved.
Film biography (classic era)
- Tanner: "Seems your hunch was right, 007. It's too bad the Evil Queen of Numbers wouldn't let you play it... (Bond clears his throat at Tanner to tell him that she is right behind him)"
- M: "You were saying?"
- Tanner: "No, no, I was just..."
- M: "Good, because if I want sarcasm, Mr. Tanner, I'll talk to my children, thank you very much."
- ―M scolds Tanner for calling her "The Evil Queen of Numbers".
She makes her debut in GoldenEye, after Tanner, her Chief of Staff, refered her as "the evil queen of numbers", given her reputation at that stage for relying on statistics and analysis rather than impulse and initiative. Bond, who returned from his evaluation and attempt to stop a prototype helicopter to be stolen, he warns him that M, who had just came in, was behind them which she soon responds to Tanner's "Evil Queen of Numbers" jab by telling him that when she wants to hear sarcasm she'll listen to her own children. After the first GoldenEye satellite was set off and the three MIGs that were sent to intercept an emergency call, this got M and Bond to talk in her office. She offers him a drink and rejects her predecessor's cognac and gives him bourbon and ice. During the briefing, M knows Bond doesn't trust her and that she thinks Bond is a "sexist, misogynist dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War." After the briefing, M wishes him good luck and to come back alive.
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
In the pre-credits scene, M is observing Bond's mission via TV on the Russian border in regards to him stopping a terrorist arms bazaar. He is to keep tabs on US techno-terrorist Henry Gupta. M sends Bond on a mission to Hamburg in order to "pump information" from his old squeeze, Paris Carver, now married to Elliot Carver. His other objective is to use Paris's information in order to infiltrate CEO Elliot Carver's CMGN (Carver Media Group Network) newspaper HQ in Hamburg. He is to retake the GPS encoder Henry Gupta bought previously in the Russian border.
The World is Not Enough (1999)
She sends Bond to recover some money for an old friend and when he came back successfully, she introduces the friend as Sir Robert King (she states that they studied law together at Oxford) and as King went to get his money, she and Bond drink to Bond's successful mission, which is soon cut short when Bond discovers the ice in his drink had dissolved into foam and a weird substance was on his hands, he soon runs out of the office and has Moneypenny to try and stop King, but it was too late and an explosion goes off in the evidence room, killing King and damaging a part of MI6. Bond tried to arrest the assassin but the woman commits suicide by blowing the hot-air balloon she commandeered and Bond soon fractured his left shoulder. After the funeral and comforting a tearful Elektra King, she puts Bond on the inactive roster due to his injury and MI6 relocates to Scotland. After Bond seduces Dr. Molly Warmflash into giving him a clean bill of health, she briefs Bond about Renard, who previously kidnapped Elektra, was still alive after an attempt on his life by 009 who was sent to try and rescue Elektra, but she already escaped after killing two of her captors. Renard was shot in the head but survived, the bullet lodged in his brain made him feel no pain, taste or smell.
Elektra called M and informed her that Bond left her alone and killed her head of security, she has M sent to her location. Later, M talked with Bond about Elekta but warns her that she might have Stockholm syndrome. After Bond and Christmas Jones were thought to have been killed in Elektra's pipeline, she gives M a present, her father's pin. She soon has her men kill M's men that were present and before she took her, M managed to slap Elektra but was soon taken for revenge. (She convinced King's father to not pay her ransom.) While held captive in Maiden's Tower, Istanbul, she was visited by Renard who put a clock outside her cell and just out of reach, so she would know exactly when she would die. She soon feels something in her pocket and finds the locator card that Bond gave her when the plutonium was stolen. Knowing that she could use the clock's battery to give power to the card as a way of signalling for help, he tries to get the clock closer to her but accidentally makes it fall.
Later, she fooled Elektra into placing the clock to the bars of her cell, giving M the chance to broadcast her location to Bond. Bond and Jones were caught but Bond escaped thanks to Valentin Zukovsky's intervening before his death. Bond managed to grab King's M1911 and chases after her and M yells to Bond, who manages to stop in time to shoot the lock off her cell, while chasing after Elektra. After Bond coldly killed Elektra, she sees him stroke the dead girl's hair before he runs out to stop Renard from using Zukovsky's nephew's submarine. Later, near the end of the film, she observes R trying to find Bond and Jones after they stopped Renard, managed to find them in a room, making out, causing R to press the "Esc" button, cutting the feed, saying it was a "premature form of the Millennium Bug."
Die Another Day (2002)
When Bond (bearded and long haired) was rescued from Korea after 14 months of torture, she thinks Bond spitted out secrets out to them. She also informs him that Zao, who was exchanged for Bond, killed three Chinese agents and before she left, she fires Bond and has him to be sent to an evaluation center to see if he was still useful, but later that night, Bond escaped. After Bond pursued Zao to Cuba and attacked a genetic clinic, the NSA director (who was also present when Bond was freed) thinks she had Bond escape. Later on, after Bond won a fencing match with Gustav Graves, she had a letter sent to the fencing club, revealing a key to an old train station where she rehires Bond. In the recently promoted Q's training simulation, she is simulated to have been held hostage and Bond and Robinson try to rescue her but Robinson is (falsely) killed and Bond killed two of the terrorists that were also in the room. In an attempt to kill the last terrorist, who is holding M, Bond shoots the terrorist's hand, giving M a flesh wound and giving Bond the chance to kill him. She also briefs Miranda Frost, who is working undercover as Graves' publicist for work experience that she will see Bond in Iceland. Later, after Bond killed Zao and rescued NSA Agent Jinx, who was also in Iceland to kill Zao, M and the NSA agent Damian Falco briefly talk, now aware that Frost was a double agent and that Graves is actually Colonel Moon. M and Falco send Bond and Jinx to kill Graves. After Graves' plane is destroyed M sighs in relief while Falco lights a cigarette.
Film biography (Craig era)
Casino Royale (2006)
Following actor Pierce Brosnan's departure from the role of 007 and the rebooting of the franchise with the 2006 film Casino Royale, Dench continued to perform the character of M for a further three films. In this new continuity, M implies that she has worked for MI6 for some time, at one point muttering, "Christ, I miss the Cold War".
- "I thought 'M' was a randomly assigned letter. I had no idea it stood for--"
"Utter one more syllable and I'll have you killed."
- ― Bond and M after she asked how he found out where she lived.
When she heard Bond had broke into an embassy and killed a suspected bomber she furiously told Bond (who broke into her apartment to use her laptop) they wanted to question him, not to kill him. When she asked Bond how he knew where she lived, she threatened to kill him should he utter her name. Claiming it was too early to promote him to '00' status, Bond reassured her that 00s have short lives. After calming down a little, she tells Bond that she needs him out of her sight and to take a vacation. As Bond walked to the elevator, she tells him not to break in again.
M was seen sleeping with an unknown man, probably her husband, when her assistant Villiers rudely called her in the middle of the night. Claiming he was going to share Bond's holiday plans, he reassures her that Bond was looking at Alex Dimitrios using her username and password. When Bond called from Miami International Airport she wondered why he was there but Villiers soon realised that Mollaka's replacement was going to destroy the Skyfleet prototype. After Bond stopped him and a misunderstanding with Miami police, M went over to the Bahamas to talk with Bond, who was observing the dead body of Solange Dimitrios and told him that Dimitrios worked as a middleman. She also informed him that Le Chiffre had lost over $100 million for Bond's intervening and he has now placed a poker game at Casino Royale in an attempt to recover it. Placing Bond in the game to replace Bliss, she presumably hired Vesper Lynd to keep an eye on Bond.
Later on, after Bond managed to win after an attempted poisoning, M was received a resignation note from Bond and called him, asking if he was going to deposit the winnings. After Vesper committed suicide, she informed 007 that she had a French Algerian boyfriend named Yusef Kabira. Quantum (not known until next film) blackmailed her when he was kidnapped, threatening to kill him if she refuse to cooperate. Unbeknownst to her, Vesper left Mr. White's phone number to Bond and at the end of the film, 007 shot Mr. White in the leg and arrested him.
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Quantum of Solace director Marc Forster suggested that Dench's casting gave the character maternal overtones in her relationship with Bond. M ends up spending most of the movie trying to work around the fact that her one trusted agent can get his assigned mission done all while he goes rogue.
At the end of the film, she is rather impressed with how he uncovered the whole Quantum conspiracy involving Vesper and Mr. White's associates.
Dench's final appearance as M was in the 2012 film Skyfall, in which her character is at the center of the film's plot. The plot revolves around former MI6 agent turned terrorist Raoul Silva trying to get revenge by killing his former boss, who sold him out to the Chinese when she discovered he was engaging in activities outside his authority by hacking the Chinese without authorization. It is curious to note that during the course of Casino Royale, M at one point makes the comment "...these bastards want your head, and I am seriously considering feeding you to them" to Bond when he goes outside his authority by shooting up an embassy, possibly making a veiled reference to what she had done to the former Tiago Rodriguez many years earlier.
M was on the verge of retiring by Gareth Mallory, but she turns it down, thinking he is firing her and left the meeting early and along the way, they were stopped by a roadblock and when M went to complain to the police, an explosion goes off in MI6, killing eight of her people and resorting them to go underground. One night, when she came home, she was about to have a drink, but then she hears a bottle lid popping and she turns to see James Bond, silhouetted in the dark. M soon asked the agent, who was presumed dead three months earlier "Where the hell have you been?" Which Bond replies "Enjoying death." Asking to report for duty, she turned on the light to see the agent, bearded and drinking, she doesn't apologize for the miss shot that hit Bond and has him evaluated (and a shower). She also told him that his house was sold when he was presumed dead and his stuff is in storage. After saying he will find a hotel, she quips "Well, you're bloody well not sleeping here."
After Bond failed all his tests, she lies and tells him that he passed, and when the shrapnel from Bond's wound was identified, leading them to Patrice, she orders him to find and interrogate Patrice. She was soon sent a YouTube clip of five MI6 Agents and had Tanner to get them out. When three agents were killed, Mallory orders M to come to an inquiry. When Bond arrests Silva, she visits him and tells him that she will remove his memorial plaque off the very wall Silva attacked. Leaving Bond and Q to try and decode Silva's laptop, she went to the inquiry. During the inquiry, Tanner tries to tell her to leave as Silva escaped but she refuses and when it gets more complicating, Mallory asks for M to speak and they allow her. After quoting Tennyson, the inquiry was soon under attacked by Silva and when he tries to shoot her, Mallory saves her by taking the bullet to his shoulder. M was soon carried out of the inquiry by Tanner, only for her car to start driving off and Bond behind the wheel. When they went to a storage container, she thinks that they are hiding in it, but Bond rephrases her that he is only changing cars. After seeing Bond's Aston Martin DB5, she thinks of it as "inconspicuous". After saying the car wasn't comfortable, Bond threatens to eject her but soon rethinks and keeps driving. Along the way, Bond stopped and they looked at an empty field in Scotland, where Bond grew up. Asking how old Bond was when his parents died, he doesn't answer and she soon replies "Orphans always make the best recruits." continuing along, they stop at Bond's family home and upon looking around, they are confronted by a shotgun wielding old man, who recognizes James and lowers his gun. Bond introduces Kincade to M and they explain why they were in Skyfall Lodge and they answered that some men will come kill them, but they will kill them first. Being shortly armed, Bond gives her his Walther PPK while he has his father's hunting rifle.
M helps set some traps by breaking light bulbs and replacing them with nails and Kincade's shotgun shells. She tried to shoot one of the men but was hit in her hip, dropping the gun in the process and Bond manages to save her and asked if she was hurt but she dismissed it. She was soon told by Bond to run down a priest's hole that Kincade showed her earlier and attempts to flee to the estate's chapel. Silva meanwhile makes his way to the chapel and forces his gun into M's hand where he begs her to kill them both. Bond arrives and kills Silva, but M collapses from her earlier wound and dies, but before she dies she tells Bond that she chose something right and that was hiring Bond for work and trusting him. Her position as head of MI6 is taken by Mallory. She left Bond her infamous Bulldog Ornament. The inscription reads: ‘From the Estate of Olivia Mansfield Bequeathed to James Bond’. This is presumably M's real name.
In Spectre, her face briefly appears in part of the opening title sequence. She also later appears in a video message that she had recorded for Bond sometime during the events of Skyfall. During the message she tells Bond that if anything happens to her then she wants him to find and kill Marco Sciarra. Bond completes this final mission for her during the pre-title sequence of the film.
No Time To Die (2020)
In No Time to Die, A portrait of her will briefly appear in the M.I.6. base.
Video Game appearances
Judi Dench lent her likeness to the The World Is Not Enough video game. She also provided her voice in a few video games. In Everything or Nothing, she briefs Bond before his missions. She had a short role in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent where she narrates at the beginning regarding the player. She appears in the videogame version of Quantum of Solace, which combines the storylines of the 2006 version of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. She is seen at the beginning of Blood Stone, trying to get a general to stop a fundraiser as a terrorist is planning on destroying, but the general ignores her and has her to have faith and trust in the general. Later when Bond stops the bomb, the general thinks they were fireworks and M congratulates 007 and orders a drink for him. As well as Daniel Craig's likeness in all levels of 007 Legends, Judi Dench only voiced her character in this game. A female M also appeared as a voice-only role in Agent Under Fire and Nightfire, portrayed by Caron Pascoe and Samantha Eggar, respectively.
Video game biography
M effectively gives the game's opening narration while reviewing MI6 employee Hunter who was shot in the right eye three years prior by Dr. No. In order to test whether the reckless agent is unfit for duty, she has him put in a simulator with Agent 007. After the agent failed, she fired him for recklessness and the 'death' of 007.
After the previous M retired, the new M was promoted from her position in statistics to head of MI6. After taking the office, She made many changes including largely removing the "Secret" aspects of the Secret Service, much to the dismay of many employees, and her loyalty to statistics earned her the name "The Evil Queen of Numbers". She nearly forced Bill Tanner to quit his position by changing his title from "Chief of Staff" to "Senior Analyst".
After Agent 007 was captured in the field by French authorities for attempting to sabotage the launch of the Tigre helicopter, which he defended as an attempt to stop its theft by Janus Crime Syndicate. M was skeptical of 007's assessment of the situation, but their meeting was cut short by Moneypenny informing them that the Tigre had been found. They rushed to the briefing room where they watched a live satellite feed of the destruction of Severnaya, due to its being the Tigre 's final location. After assessing the situation as the work of the GoldenEye weapon, which M believed to not exist due to the Soviets not having had the budget or resources to build it. While she was still skeptical of the Janus Crime Syndicate's involvement, she sent 007 on Assignment GoldenEye to find the lone survivor of the Severnaya incident and to see if she knows who the inside man that allowed the Tigre 's thieves to enter the facility.
A cold, blunt woman, as the head of MI6 M took her role extremely seriously which contradicts with Bond's humorous outlook. She was calm, intelligent, stoic, pragmatic, resourceful and analytical however she also deals with doubt and uncertainty from her agents and even some other government officials. Specifically that whereas other M's were males she was a woman and this led to question of her authority, so much that Bill Tanner described her as "The Evil Queen of Numbers" which earned him a jabbing remark from the latter.
M is a woman who only believes only in the facts and logistics rather than actual intuition which won her nickname from Tanner however there are times when she will act on impulse, such as when she refused to give Bond to the CIA despite him being rogue and claims that she trusts him. This was also shown when she urged Moneypenny to take the shot to kill Patrice despite her not having a clean one and the chance she could kill Bond simply because she didn't want the list in the wrong hands.
M is a non-action woman and normally operated behind the scenes while letting agents do the work. She is an excellent strategist, using death traps to defend Skyfall from Silva's men and could easily manipulate and understand other people's motives however she is something of a lousy shot claiming that it's been years since she actually fired a gun. M is incredibly stubborn, to the point where Silva had escaped from MI6 security, and was on the warpath to kill her at her inquiry but refused to leave as to not show the minister her back.She also displays an almost ruthless side to her; during the events of Skyfall M reveals how she respected a brilliant agent Tiago Rodriguez until he went his above pay grade by hacking into the Chinese which prompts her to sell him to the people he hacked, earning three agents in return. She was also prepared to feed Bond to the bastards who want his head after he was photographed killing an African embassy.
If it is needed M will occasionally put the mission above the safety and well-being of her agents which was shown when Patrice had hit the field agent, Ronson and Bond took the time to stabilise him she urged to leave him and pursue the list. However she showed genuine concern for the agents whose disguise were uncovered when Silva posted their names on YouTube. M spent most of her time in the movies interacting with Bond. The two were complete opposites; whereas M was rational and calculated, Bond had a higher degree of recklessness. M was able to deduce that 007 didn't like her and mocks Bond further by describing him as "a sexist, misogynistic dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War" however they cannot deny a mutual respect and trust for one another, M was willing to defy the CIA when they wanted Bond after he went rogue.
M also makes very real threats to kill Bond if he ever broke in her house or say her real name. In her final moments she admits that it was a good idea to hire Bond and trust him. M is quite foul-mouthed at times, describing the people who caught Bond shooting in an African Embassy as "bastards." There was one occasion when her, 007 and Kincade where defending Skyfall and she says to Bond "I really fucked this up didn't I?" M does have a sense of humour, but it is normally quite sarcastic and dry. An example would be when Bond had broken into her apartment yet again and informs her that he would be staying in a hotel for her to reply "well, you're bloody well not staying here." Then also again when 007 drives M to Skyfall where she asks "007 are you kidnapping me?" Despite her dedication to the job M also had a life outside her role as the head of MI6, she claims to Bill Tanner that she had children but these were never seen. She also had a husband but he died before the events of Skyfall.
Behind the scenes
The character is based on Stella Rimington, the real-life head of MI5 between 1992 and 1996. Dench's character was never referred to by name on-screen. However, a prop from the final scene of Skyfall, where M bequeaths some of her possessions to Bond following her death, revealed that her character was given the name "Olivia Mansfield". As the character was never directly referred to by this name, its canonicity is unresolved. Dench's M was previously identified by the name Barbara Mawdsley in Raymond Benson's 1998 novel, The Facts of Death.
- With Skyfall, Judi Dench's M became the first character to use a variation of the word "fuck" on-screen in a James Bond movie. (Timothy Dalton is seen using the word "fucking" in his debut in The Living Daylights, although he is not audible at the time, while Roger Moore used the same word in a deleted scene from A View To A Kill.)
- She is the first M to be killed in the line of duty.
- In both continuities, she is the first M to interact with the film's main villain (The World Is Not Enough & Skyfall).
- She appears in Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic book series. In her younger spy years, she resembles Emma Peel from the British spy drama The Avengers, though referred to by her maiden name Emma Night (a slightly different spelling of her actual maiden name Knight to write around the trademark).
- She is the second version of M to have a portrait. The first was the late original M (Bernard Lee) whose portrait appears in MI6's Scottish headquarters during the 1999 installment The World Is Not Enough (film)
- ↑ (by Bill Tanner (Michael Kitchen))
- ↑ (by Kincade)
- ↑ Ellery, Ben. "M's real name uncovered: 007 fan discovers James Bond's boss is called Olivia Mansfield," 5 May 2013. Retrieved on 5 May 2013.
- ↑ Mortimer, Ben. "The Level of Detail in Skyfall's Props," ComingSoon.net, 21 February 2013. Retrieved on 23 February 2013.
- ↑ McKay, Sinclair (2008). The man with the golden touch: how the Bond films conquered the world. London: Aurum Press, p=353. ISBN 978-1-84513-355-9.
- ↑ Nathan, Ian. "Quantum's Leap", October 2008, p. 87. Retrieved on 30 January 2012.
- ↑ West, Nigel (2010). Historical dictionary of Ian Fleming's world of intelligence: fact and fiction. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, p.45. ISBN 978-0-7524-2896-3.
- ↑ Rimington, Stella (2008). Open secret: the autobiography of the former Director-General of MI5. London: Arrow Books, p.244. ISBN 978-0-09-943672-0.
- ↑ Mortimer, Ben. "The Level of Detail in Skyfall's Props," ComingSoon.net, 21 February 2013. Retrieved on 23 February 2013. “As we looked at the porcelain bulldog M bequeaths Bond, the archive assistant read the inscription on the box it is presented to him in - "Olivia Mansfield bequeaths James Bond." We've searched around, and as far as we can see this is the first and only time anyone's ever revealed M's 'real name.'”
- ↑ http://jamesbond.wikia.com/wiki/The_Facts_of_Death