Summary

  • Director David Leitch reveals that he thinks the scene in the first
    John Wick
    in which Keanu Reeves takes his new puppy out of the crate is one of the most important in the franchise.
  • Leitch recalls that he and co-director Chad Stahelski got a lot of pushback on the decision to kill the dog.
  • The puppy’s death in
    John Wick
    is sad but ultimately crucial to justifying Wick’s killing spree and getting audiences to root for the character.



John Wick director David Leitch explains why one shot from the film is one of the franchise’s most important. Released in 2014, the debut entry in the hit action franchise features Leitch as an uncredited co-director alongside the credited Chad Stahelski, who would go on to direct the three subsequent sequels solo. Leitch, however, has remained an executive producer on all the John Wick films, which follow Keanu Reeves’ Wick as he does battle against other assassins and the all-powerful High Table.

In a recent video for CineFix – IGN Movies and TV, Leitch is asked to pick his favorite shot from the first John Wick, and he selects the scene in which the title character meets his new puppy for the first time.


This scene comes not long before the puppy’s tragic death, which is essentially the catalyst for the events of the entire franchise. According to Leitch, the scene is important because it fleshed out Wick’s emotional motivation. Check out the filmmaker’s comment below:

“There’s so many great shots in the first John Wick. I think one that’s the most impactful is Keanu pulling the dog out of the dog carrier. It’s sort of the emotional fuel for the entire series. It represents Helen, his wife, and his humanity, and that they’re going to not let him retain his humanity when the dog is killed.

“I think that was also such a provocative thing to do in a film. We were told so many times by the studio and by a lot of film friends, they’re like, ‘You can’t kill the dog. It’ll curse the movie.’ I think we really knew in our heart of hearts it was the emotional fuel we needed for this character and what we wanted to do on the other side of it.

“So I think that’s really one of the most important shots in the John Wick franchise.”


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John Wick’s Puppy Death Was Shocking But Necessary

While human beings are generally fair game in action movies, depicting animal deaths on screen has always been risky as it’s more likely to alienate audiences. This is especially true when the animal in question is an adorable puppy. Killing Wick’s puppy then, was a bold choice that could have easily backfired, but it was ultimately the right decision for the story.


Helen, John’s late wife, leaves him the puppy after she dies so that he’s not alone, and the animal, as Leitch explains, comes to represent the assassin’s humanity. Wick’s retired and his life of violence is seemingly over at the beginning of the story. When the puppy is killed, however, Wick reverts to his old violent self, wiping out scores of enemies on his quest for vengeance.

While the puppy’s death is undoubtedly very sad, it makes the John Wick franchise’s high kill count acceptable. The death immediately means audiences are on board with Wick’s merciless killing, and it quickly makes the character, who by all accounts has lived a very troubled criminal life, immediately someone worth rooting for. Thankfully, however, subsequent John Wick movies have stayed away from killing any more dogs.

Source: CineFix – IGN Movies and TV




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