John Wick Directors Had To Fight To Kill The Dog Off

John Wick 3

If you head to your local bargain bin you’ll likely find more than a dozen action movies that feature a hitman coming out of retirement for one last job, but John Wick isn’t your average assassin. As well as the precision-engineered fight choreography and Keanu Reeves adding yet another iconic character to a filmography full of them, the movie made the rare and shocking decision to kill off the leading man’s four-legged best friend.

Not a lot of films in any genre tend to get rid of the main character’s canine companion, and there’s even a website called Does The Dog Die? where animal lovers can check in ahead of time to see if it happens, but as upsetting as it may have been, the choice to have the death of his dog act as the driving force behind John Wick’s quest for revenge only made it all the sweeter when the bad guys finally got their comeuppance.

In a recent interview, writer Derek Kolstad admitted that the studio originally wanted the dog to be removed from the script entirely, but directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelksi stood their ground on the basis that John Wick suffering yet another major loss in his personal life would only heighten the emotional impact of the story.

“I think that they wanted to do it right, and so there were elements where the studio said, ‘Let’s cut the dog out. Let’s just focus on it as an assassin coming out of retirement’. That kind of thing. But without that dog connection, and without that underlying soul and the heartbeat of that character, and also the levity it brings the humor, it was key. At certain points, Chad and Dave, they fought for it, they got it, and they were right. They continued to fight for the way they see certain stories playing out elsewhere. They’ve done quite well with that. They’re talented cats, man.”

John Wick only reacted the same way that any highly-skilled merchant of death would have done if somebody had turned up and killed their dog so soon after the death of their wife, and Kolstad is right in his assertion that having it act as the catalyst for the revenge narrative only served to increase the audience’s connection and empathy with the character.