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Everything Old Is Good Again: James Bond “Skyfall” Movie Shows Strengths of Age

Boomers searching how to sustain their careers have a new hero and heroine: James Bond and his boss, M.

In the latest Bond blockbuster, “Skyfall” – named for the Scottish estate where Bond spent his formative years – the fabled British spy and his supervisor must rely on their wisdom (read: old-school spy savvy) to match wits with a villain who’s gotten ahead of them using technology.


The movie opens with Bond chasing a hit man (across rooftops and atop a train in Istanbul, Turkey) who has stolen a computer drive with an ultra-secret list of British agents. There begin the metaphors of the triumph of the old over the new: Bond must fight the latest threats with old-fashioned fisticuffs, guile and familiar spy gadgets.

British politicians look for someone to blame for the peril to the country from the intelligence failure. M, played by Judi Dench, is urged by her conciliatory boss to retire quietly. “We’re to call this retirement planning,” he suggests gently. “I’ll leave when the job’s done,” she retorts. With this combination of loyalty and stubbornness, M refuses to leave before resolving the mystery of the missing hard drive. Spoiler alert 1: Bond, presumed dead after the chase, returns for a do-or-retire mission.

In one scene, M asks Bond: “Where are we going?” Bond replies: “Back in time. Somewhere where we’ll have the advantages.” They use the tried-and-true from days gone by including a knife, a classic Bond car with hidden machine guns, and an estate secret dating to the Protestant Reformation all prove useful. Spoiler alert 2: Bond and M use their ingenuity to improvise, escape and triumph over the latest bad guy whose new tricks are impressive but don’t quite get the dirty deed done.

A changing world, a loss of confidence by decision-makers, and a sense that they have to prove themselves all over again all challenge Bond and M. Sound familiar? Indeed, boomers who face a changing workplace, an uncertain future, and the need to sustain themselves might take inspiration from “Skyfall,” which, coincidentally, marks the 50th anniversary of the James Bond brand.

— Sharon Emek, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO

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