Today, opening nation-wide, is the 24th film in the official James Bond franchise, Spectre. Debuting on theatre screens in 1962’s Dr. No, Bond has been played by six different actors to date. Despite being present in pop culture for nearly six decades, the agent known as 007 is without a doubt a truly timeless character. But is he ageless?
Up until recently, it would seem he was. No matter how many years he graced the screen, and no matter which actor was portraying him, Bond was always in top form of the man other men wanted to be, and women wanted to be with. We even had to pretend it wasn’t creepy when 57-year-old Roger Moore was flirting with women half his age. But since the newest iteration of Bond, it’s been clear that they’ve been keen to change things up with the most famous secret agent.
Daniel Craig took up the 007 mantel in 2006’s Casino Royale, which was a reboot of sorts for the franchise. Craig’s Bond was decidedly different from earlier versions. He was a little rougher around the edges, tended to get beat up more than his predecessors, and his flaws were made a little more evident. And this Bond was allowed to do something else no other Bond had been allowed to do; he got older.
2012’s Skyfall was the last Bond film before this weekend’s debut of Spectre, and it seemed make a special theme of how Bond is beginning to embrace his baby boomer status. This Bond was not the young, brash hotshot agent who vexes his superiors with his loose-cannon antics. Instead, he is an old grump who many suspect is passed his prime. The film begins with Bond entering into an unexpected retirement of sorts only to find that he’s wasting his days away in boredom and jumps at the chance to put his old skills to good use. But returning to work, he sees that things have changed. There’s new ways of doing things, which he doesn’t fully understand, and his ways make him something of a relic. He’s unable to meet the requirement’s of the job, and maybe even starts to doubt that he still has it in him, but he won’t leave until the job is done.
Unfortunately, it’s not just Bond himself that doubts how relevant he still is in the current market. His new boss looks at him as a liability and is less than enthusiastic about welcoming back. He bluntly asks 007 why he didn’t just stay retired, as he insists the job is a young man’s game. The personification of that young man, comes with the introduction of the new Q, a twenty-something, tech-savvy genius who ensures Bond he can do everything the old man can with half the effort. He even not-so-subtlety relates Bond to a melancholic painting, saying, “A grand old war ship being ignominiously hauled away for scrap. The inevitability of time, don’t you think?”. And the two politely trade barbs about each others age.
“Age is no guarantee of efficiency,” says Q.
“And youth is no guarantee of innovation,” Bond retorts.
And despite all the challenges and criticisms he faces along the way, Bond, of course, comes out on top and validating the boomers professionals in the process. He proves he still understands the “market”, relies on his old way of doing things, looks for help where he needs it, and, in the end, stays until the job is done. Can we learn something from Bond? If nothing else, it shows that boomers still impact pop culture an their stories can be told, if only under the guise of a spy thriller. At best, you can take a page from 007’s playbook; leave the boredom of retirement behind, find something where you can be challenged with meaningful work, hone those old skills and don’t be afraid to learn some new ones.
As the films says, “Old dog. New tricks”.