For Craig's third outing, though, Lynd is gone. Rather than trying to replace her with another believable love interest, Skyfall takes another tack. The main female lead here is the formidable M (Judi Dench), Bond's boss and the head of MI6. M is referred to by her agents as "Mum," and Skyfall is—very atypically for a Bond film—focused not only on women as sex objects, but also on women as mothers.
Just as the sex objects in previous Bond films were sometimes untrustworthy, motherhood in Skyfall is an ambivalent thing. The first set piece of the movie concludes with M issuing an order that results in Bond's apparent death. He then goes on a bender involving sultry Mediterranean babes and lots of liquor, as if he's recovering from a lover's quarrel. The main antagonist, Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), also has major mommy issues. A former MI6 agent, he believes he was betrayed by M and is obsessed with destroying her agents and killing her. In an unpleasant nod to Ian Fleming's virulent homophobia, Silva's mother fixation is linked to his decadence and predatory homosexuality. He's a twisted momma's boy, and his personal sick fixation on M is contrasted with Bond's straight (ahem)-arrow commitment to duty and country.
In fact, in terms of the movie's gendered logic, you could say that Silva's mistake is in seeing M as a mother when—despite the female body—she is in fact a father. Throughout the film, M insistently rejects the traditional mother's role of nurturer for the traditional father's insistence on duty and tough love. Sometimes, the female father is played for laughs, as when Bond, returned from the dead, shows up in M's apartment with no place to stay—and she tells him in no uncertain terms that he is not going to spend the night. At other times, the female father is presented more solemnly—as when, in a moment of weakness, M wonders if she made a mistake in her treatment of Silva, and Bond tells her that no, she was just (like every good father) doing her job.
Either way, though, the result is the same. M's motherliness validates the film's, and indeed the franchise's, masculine performance. It's no accident that (despite some detours to exotic locales) much of Skyfall is set in London or—at the climax—in Bond's Scottish childhood home. The mother and the motherland are what we fight for; the idealized imagined masculine can bust some heads in the name of the idyllic imagined feminine.
And what better way to validate this symbiotic gendered violence than to have the mother herself stand up and trumpet the manly virtues? Thus it is M who sends Bond out into the field though she knows he is not at 100 percent, trusting the inspiration of her (and his country's) need to overcome his weakness. And it is M who delivers the speech to the legislators about the evils of terrorism and the strong, ruthless agents who are needed to protect the weak, spineless public. You civilian overseers with your quaint concerns about loss of life and due process and ethics: You're such children. But don't worry your little heads about it, and mommy and daddy—or even better, mommy/daddy—will pile dead bodies at the barricades on your behalf.