Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Bullet Train

A Reel Leadership Article

My latest book, Reel Leadership, is now available on Amazon. If you love movies and leadership, you will love this book.

Bullet Train is one of the most unique and fun films I’ve seen in a long time. It’s an action movie with a bit of intrigue, suspense, and fun all mixed together.

Sony’s Bullet Train stars Brad Pit as Ladybug, Joey King as Prince, Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Tangerine, Brian Tyree Henry as Lemon, Andrew Koji as Kimora, and Hiroyuki Sanada as The Elder. The whole cast was phenomenal and not to be missed.

Bad Bunny and Brad Pitt in Bullet Train movie

You’ll enjoy the film if you love fast action, witty banter, and a twist. Fair warning, the film has quite a bit of violence and language. It is not for kids.

You’ll also love Bullet Train if you’re a student of leadership. Bullet Train is full of leadership lessons ready for you to pick out as you watch.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Bullet Train

1. The Elder:

A father’s duty is to protect his family.

Wataru (Kevin Akiyoshi Ching) is a young child who was pushed off of a building. He survived but was lying in the hospital.

Kimura (Andrew Koji), Wataru’s father, was scolded by his father, The Elder. The Elder told Kimura that fathers are to protect their families. Kimura had failed to do what fathers do.

People often say the office is like a family. If so, that would mean those in leadership positions are in a parental role.

Your role as a leader is to protect your team. You do your best to ensure they have everything they need to do their jobs.

2. Maria (Sandra Bullock):

It’s good luck. It’s all in how you view it.

Ladybug saw the things that happened around him as bad luck. People tended to die, things are destroyed, and more.

One situation Ladybug recalled was when the bellman jumped from the hotel roof in a suicide attempt. The bellman landed on Ladybug’s car. Ladybug drove him to the hospital. The bellman survived.

Maria told Lady this wasn’t bad luck. Ladybug had been there to save the bellman!

Many situations we face as a leader can be viewed through multiple lenses. One lens will tell you that you’re a terrible leader. Things never go right.

The other lens will tell you that things are good. You’re doing a great job and need to keep going.

Contemplate what lens you’re looking through. Change the lens to see the positive.

3. Don’t discount people based on their looks:

Kimura received a ticket to the bullet train. A note attached stated that the person in the seat would be the one who pushed his son off of the roof.

Kimura arrived on the train and tracked down the person. He finds a petite woman named The Prince sitting in the seat. He mistakingly thought she was harmless and not the person who tried to kill his son.

He was wrong. The Prince was much more dangerous than she looked.

We have the mindset of Kimura too often. We look at the people who work with us, do deals with, and more.

Their looks and attitudes often give us an idea of who or what they are. We judge them.

Many times incorrectly.

Make sure you’re not judging based on looks. You could be dangerously wrong.

4. Lemon:

Everything I learned about people, I learned from Thomas the Tank Engine.

Lemon was a burley man who had a sweet side. He found himself learning from unique sources (much like Reel Leadership).

One source of wisdom Lemon kept coming back to was Thomas The Tank Engine. Yes, the kid’s show.

Throughout the show, Lemon was able to learn about people and situations. He used what he saw and applied it to life.

There are strange sources of wisdom out there. You may learn from children’s movies, horror movies, a child, and more.

Don’t discount a source of knowledge because it is unconventional. The oddest places to learn can be the best places.

5. Listen to those close to you:

The leader of the Yakuza had seen The White Death (Michael Shannon) as a savior of his clan. The White Death was powerful and would help lead the clan to victory.

Those around the leader of the Yakuza saw a different story. They saw a story where The White Death turns on the leader and takes him out.

Sadly, the leader didn’t listen. The White Death turned on the Yakuza clan and slaughtered many people.

You may think that you’re a good judge of character. Who doesn’t want to believe that? Yet, you would be wise to listen to those around you.

The people you surround yourself with should be able to tell you whether or not new people are trustworthy. Be willing to listen to them on new hires, new problems, and more.

6. Leadership can be confusing:

A lot is going on in Bullet Train. One of the plots revolved around Lemon thinking Ladybug had killed The Son (Logan Lerman). Ladybug thought Lemon had meant he’d killed The Wolf (Bad Bunny). Everyone was confused!

How like leadership is this? There’s so much going on that we get confused about what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen.

Be aware you may get confused during your time as a leader. That’s okay.

Find a way to stay aware of what’s happening and what you need to do.

7. Bad leaders place the blame on the wrong people:

Tangerine and Lemon were in trouble. They’d lost the briefcase full of ransom money and The Son had been murdered. Two things they’d been hired to prevent.

Tangerine saw an opportunity. Ladybug could be blamed. It didn’t matter whether or not Ladybug had committed the offense or not. All that mattered was preventing themselves from being in trouble.

Great leaders don’t cover things up. They’re willing to step into the responsibility for what has happened.

Things go bad? Don’t pass the blame off to someone else. That’s never good.

Instead, choose to admit when things haven’t gone right. Take responsibility.

8. Ladybug:

You sure you don’t want to talk this out?

In the trailer and in the movie, we see Ladybug and Tangerine fighting on the Bullet Train. Their fight leads them to the refreshment room. There, Ladybug gets a bottle of sparkling water from one of the attendants.

After the attendant leaves, Ladybug asks Tangerine if he wants to talk it out. Tangerine doesn’t.

Good leaders look for ways to avoid trouble. They see the possibilities of talking things out.

Find ways to talk things out rather than letting things get ugly.

9. Sometimes, we’re our own worst enemy:

The Hornet (Zazie Beetz) had used snake venom to kill people. She had one vial of antivenom on her in case she was bit.

When The Hornet fought Ladybug, she stabbed him with a syringe of snake venom, which Ladybug turned on The Hornet and injected her.

Both needed the antivenom. There was only one vial. Ladybug was able to get the antivenom from The Hornet, and The Hornet passed away.

We may think we’re clever. We may think we can get away with things. Eventually, we become our own worst enemy when we do this.

The things we do, the methods we use, and the tactics may come back to damage us.

Ultimately, we become our worst enemy when we’re doing things wrong.

10. Be willing to let things go:

The White Death had been on a rampage. He was looking for revenge.

Ladybug asked The White Death to let things go.

The White Death said no. With that, he pulled the trigger on his gun. The Prince had rigged the gun to explode on the person who shot it.

The White Death was killed. All because he wasn’t willing to let things go.

Leaders have to be willing to let things go. The more you hold onto the things that bother you, the more you will find yourself struggling.

When you let things go, you let go of hurt, anger, and resentment holding you back. Letting go frees you up to lead without baggage.

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