Quotes and Leadership Lessons from Bad Boys: Ride or Die


In our latest Reel Leadership article, we return to the world of Bad Boys. Previously, we covered Bad Boys For Life. Today we’re covering the newest entry into the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence film series: Bad Boys: Ride Or Die.

Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett are Miami cops who have come upon a conspiracy. Former police Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano) had a large sum of money transferred to his bank account. The FBI believes he was part of a corrupt unit of cops and they’re out for blood.

Mike and Marcus don’t believe this. Even more so as clues lead them on a chase to find the real criminals behind this. And it’s one of their own.

This funny buddy-cop action movie will leave you in stitches. Maybe a few scenes will leave you with whiplash. More than anything, I believe Bad Boys: Ride Or Die can leave you a better leader.Let’s seek out the leadership lessons in Bad Boys: Ride Or Die.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Bad Boys: Ride Or Die

1. When you’re late, there are consequences:

Mike is driving extremely fast. Martin is in the passenger seat. He’s freaking out. He thinks Mike is going to kill him with his erratic driving.

There’s a reason Mike is driving like a madman. He’s trying to get somewhere (his wedding!). But why so fast? 

Because Martin was late.

Martin’s tardiness led them to run late for Mike’s wedding to Christine (Melanie Liburd). Mike had to make up for it by driving dangerously. He didn’t want to be late for this date!

We think others need to bend to our schedules. Some of us even think others have to bend to our tardiness.

They don’t.

If you can’t manage your schedule so that you’re on time for your commitments, you’re the one causing issues. There will be consequences.

It may be a loss of respect from your employees or clients. It could be losing a deal. Or it could be something much worse.

Being late is unacceptable.

2. Marcus:

Don’t antagonize him.

For some reason, Mike allows for a pit stop at a convenience store so Marcus can pick something up. While he’s there, a man with a gun (James Lee Thomas) bursts into the store.

Shortly after, Mike walks in, wondering what is taking Marcus so long. 

The robber antagonizes Marcus, Mike, and the store clerk (Enoch King). Marcus tells the robber to stop. He shouldn’t antagonize Mike.

Marcus was right. The more the robber went on, the more frustrated Mike became. Eventually, he apprehended the robber.

How many times have we antagonized someone else? It could be someone higher up or someone we lead. We push their buttons, try to get them upset, and antagonize them.

Stop it. Just stop it.

Antagonizing others doesn’t do anyone any good. In fact, it just makes people upset. 

There are better ways to get things done.

3. Leaders will have to go through storms:

At Mike and Christine’s wedding, Marcus has a heart attack. He’s legally dead for a few moments.

While dead, Marcus has a vision of Chief Howard. Chief Howard tells him it’s not his time. He also tells Marcus that there’s a storm coming for Mike and him.

That storm? An accusation they killed the flight crew of a helicopter transporting Mike’s son, Armando (Jacob Scipio). The FBI believes the pair may have been involved in the dealings they thought the chief was accused of.

Leaders will have to weather the storms of leadership – Leadership lessons from Bad Boys: Ride Or Die


Eventually, they weather the storm. They come out the other side. 

Be prepared for the storms of leadership. They’re going to come your way. 

It’s okay. You can battle the storms. You get through them just like you do with the weather, the natural storms in your life.

4. Follow the clues:

Mike and Marcus had clues left by the deceased police chief Howard. Each clue led them to a new place.

They were led to Fletcher’s (John Salley) new club, amongst other places.

Organizational clues will lead you to the right conclusion – Leadership lessons from Bad Boys: Ride Or Die


By following Howard’s clues, they could close the case and discover the true mole within the police department, Lockwood (Ioan Gruffudd).

What clues are left in your organization? What are you missing that competitors are telling you?

These are all clues, hints, pointers in the direction you should go.

Listen to and follow the clues.

5. Leaders will panic. Get help:

A shooter in the club shot Fletcher. Marcus and Mike pursue multiple culprits and corner one of them.

Suddenly, Mike has a panic attack. He can’t function. He’s frozen. 

Mike suffers another panic attack later in the movie while James McGrath (Eric Dane) holds Christine captive. Mike is unable to act.

Multiple people in the film tell Mike to get help.

There will be times when you may have a panic attack. This is a freak-out moment you can’t control, when you feel overwhelmed and fail to act.

There’s no shame in having a panic attack. They will happen.

The problem is when you’re unwilling to seek out the help you need. Don’t be afraid to seek out mental help.

6. Issues can linger for far too long:

Fletcher gave Mike and Marcus a clue. They didn’t understand the clue until other cops investigated the flashing symbols displayed on the club’s walls.

There was a hidden QR code in one of the images. This image led to another message/clue from Captain Howard. 

Issues can linger for far too long in an organization – Leadership lessons from Bad Boys: Ride Or Die


In this video message from the grave, Captain Howard tells the pair that he had been investigating corruption in the police force for 9 years.

How often do issues linger in your organization? Sometimes, unseen or unknown issues bubble just below the surface for years.

When you discover an issue that needs to be addressed, address it. Find ways to handle the problem and move on.

7. Mike:

Do it for Captain Howard.

Mike is talking to Rita (Paola Núñez) and Lockwood. He shares that his son, Armando, knew who ordered Captain Howard’s murder. He has a face that he could use to identify the true culprit.

Rita and Lockwood were hesitant to hear Mike out. Mike pleaded with them, even using the memory of their former police captain. 

He knew the power of Captain Howard’s memory.

When a great leader has been present in an organization, their memory or name can be a great motivator for those you’re now leading. Keep the positive memories of previous leaders alive.

The long-term employees will remember the good days. They’ll understand that by continuing forward, they can continue to honor the memory of their past great leaders.

8. Call the right people:

McGrath sends people to attack Marcus’ family. He says they only need to kidnap one person.

Marcus knows who to call in this situation: his daughter’s husband Reggie (Dennis Greene/Dennis Mcdonald). Reggie is a former Marine and the love of his daughter Megan’s (Bianca Bethune) life.

Upon getting the phone call, Reggie springs into action. He moves Marcus’ family into the closet. Then, he pulls out his weapons.

Great leaders call the right people – Leadership lessons from Bad Boys: Ride Or Die


In the best action scene of the movie, Reggie takes out 15 of the people attacking the home.

Marcus called the right person.

When an issue arises, do you know who to call? For a ghost problem (yes, I know it’s not real), you might call the Ghostbusters. Marcus called Reggie. You have to have someone you can call when things hit the fan.

It could be a contractor specializing in telephone repairs, an ERP specialist, or someone who deals in hard data. If you reach out to them in a timely manner, they can save you and your organization.

9. Armando:

Let my life be worth something.

Armando, Mike’s son, began as the antagonist of the previous Bad Boys film. He was upset and manipulated by others.

In Bad Boys: Ride Or Die, Armando is in prison. He was being transported with Mike and Marcus when the vehicle was attacked. He decides to stay with the pair to help bring justice to those who need it.

When McGrath says he wants Armando to be turned over to him in exchange for Christine and Callie (Quinn Hemphill), Armando steps up. He knows his sacrifice could save two people.

I think Armando’s words need to be the ideology of every leader. Every leader must desire for his or her life to mean something.

Be willing to lay yourself down to serve others.

10. Mike:

Be good.

After taking out McGrath, Judy (Rhea Seehorn), Captain Howard’s daughter and an FBI agent, lets Mike take Armando to safety. 

Mike takes his son to a boat. He tells his son to be good.

Every leader needs to help their people to be good. This could be in their attitudes, how they work, or even outside of their organizations.

Great leaders produce good people. Be a good people producer.