What not to say: Three things: Judi Dench’s M dies, Naomi Harris’s Eve is also Ms Moneypenny and Ralph Fiennes’s Gareth Mallory is the new M – all huge deals for 007 and his fans.
Over the course of the previous two films (and, in a strange way, through Pierce Brosnan’s tenure too), Dame Judi’s relationship with Bond has grown into a touching sparring match, all bickering banter and smart remarks but with a heavy dollop of genuine affection on the side. Her death, then, marks the end of an era for EON, her seven-film run since 1995’s GoldenEye providing a much-needed reality check for the cocktail-slurping assassin. The way she goes, too – injured in the siege of Skyfall, she dies in Bond’s arms – is fitting for the stepmother/stepson relationship they’d been fostering all these years.
As for Moneypenny, whose surname is awkwardly crowbarred into the final scene, her reveal is more fan-pleasing, marking a neat return to early Bonds that works all the better thanks to the arrival of a new M in the form of Mr. Fiennes just one room away. It’s a shame that Craig didn’t get to throw his trilby on her hat stand – steady now – but perhaps that’s in the offing for Bonds 24 and 25.
Did we see it coming? Big time, but bizarrely that didn’t ruin it. Bond productions are famously (and ironically) leakier than Karl Stromberg’s floating submarine pen, with even the Scottish castle ending given away by the laird who owns it just days after the film was announced. For what it’s worth, Naomi Harris never let the Moneypenny drop, but it wasn’t a big shock when it turned out she’d been lying all along. Mallory, too, was predictable if only because his surname begins with an M.
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