I’m surprised I’ve never seen this talked about before, but there seems (at least to me) to be a very clear delineation in character/personality between the M of the Brosnan films and the M of the Craig films, despite both of course being played by the same person. They come off very successfully as two distinct characters.
Brosnan’s M is always very cool and collected; generally unflappable. I can’t recall off the top of my head any scenes where she, for instance, raises her voice. What does come to mind are things like the “misogynist dinosaur” speech in GoldenEye or the hospital room scene in Die Another Day. Stern and authoritative, certainly, but with a sort of self-assured calmness as well.
On the other hand, the M that Craig’s Bond knows is much more brash. She’s got a mouth like a sailor (within the bounds of family-friendly entertainment of course… but she does drop the franchise’s first f-bomb!), she’s sarcastic and sassy and says things like “Go on, eject me. See if I care”, which I could never imagine the M of the Brosnan films saying. Her introduction in Casino Royale sets her up perfectly with that extended rant at Villiers. The poor guy has no chance to get a single word in.
Just wanted to call attention to this, as I’ve never seen it discussed by fans. Or the filmmakers. Or Dench herself! I know she isn’t exactly lacking for acting accolades, but I for one am impressed. As the lone holdover for the reboot, she still managed to “reboot”… herself? And I think that’s very cool.