John Wick director says “extreme” dog death was necessary
Killing dogs is generally frowned upon, but John Wick used it as the key moment that triggered one of the most championed action franchises.
Killing a pooch onscreen is nothing new but it’s still shocking, especially when it’s done in such a violent manner. And while movies like Fear and American Psycho (you OK, Reese Witherspoon?) have memorable scenes of dog deaths, only John Wick has been able to use it as a catalyst for launching one of the best franchises of the 21st century.
But the idea of killing a dog in the John Wick series wasn’t always a firm commitment. Director Chad Stahleski, speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, said, “Killing the puppy was written out as many times as it was written back in. Ultimately, it’s mythological. We had to go so overboard, so extreme to push it to let you know that it was absolutely symbolic. We’re not trying to hold the realism. We want the viewers to know we’re having a laugh.” He added, recognizing just how over-the-top the act is and how much it could have ruined peoples’ careers and livelihoods. “But you don’t even know how much [producer] Dave [Leitch] and I stressed about that. Holy shit, we were risking credit cards, a house mortgage, everything. [Producer] Basil Iwanyk put his company up. And then you have that day where you realize we’re doing all this and we’re killing a puppy? I thought we would never come back from it.”
John Wick’s dog, Daisy, was of course the last gift his late wife gave him, and Daisy’s death in the first act proves a devastating inciting incident, putting the whole movie and eventual franchise into motion. Of course, Daisy wasn’t killed because John Wick didn’t pick up that issue of National Lampoon, but the beagle does serve as a symbol of comfort that the protagonist lost.
John Wick remains one of the best-reviewed action franchises ever. With a current average rating of 89% over the four John Wick entries, they’re certainly no dogs. And if there’s ever a John Wick 5, it seems a guarantee it would rank just as high. Our own JimmyO gave the fourth entry a perfecto-mundo 10/10, saying it’s “one of the best action movies of the past few years” and that it “may be the most exhilarating two-hour and thirty-eight minutes you’ll spend in theatres this year.”
Where do the John Wick dogs (and there are many) rank in your memorable movie pooches? Let us know below!