Cutting One Major Keanu Reeves Scene From The First John Wick Would Have Totally Changed The Movie, But It Nearly Happened

Keanu Reeves in John Wick
(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

The John Wick franchise has spawned multiple movies, one spinoff series available with a Peacock Premium subscription, and a film spinoff, titled Ballerina, on the way. None of it would be possible without the success of the first movie, so it's absolutely wild to hear just how close it was to being completely different. Director David Leitch recently talked about the major moment that was nixed that would've changed the franchise as we know it.

John Wick isn't really about dogs, but it also is at the same time. The dogs of John really represent something about the message of the series, and as Leitch brought up in a recent CineFix video, they shape the narrative of the first movie. Leitch talked about what the scene where his dog is killed means to the inaugural run and how it almost didn't happen:

It's sort of the emotional fuel for the entire series. It represents Helen, his wife, and his humanity. And that they're not going to let him retain his humanity when the dog is killed...We were told so many times by the studio and by a lot of film friends, 'We can't kill the dog.' It's impossible. It'll curse the movie.

Some may think David Leitch is being a tad melodramatic with the importance of the scene, but you really have to think about how it would reshape one of the best action movies out there. Say the movie cuts the bad guys killing his dog, but leaves them attacking John and nearly leaving him for dead. Sure, it warrants revenge, but does it need to go to the level he took it?

To justify John Wick's primal rage and merciless execution, there needs to be an act so despicable the audience is rooting for him to do it. Leitch might've worded it better than I could as he continued below as to why he and the movie's team insisted on leaving it in:

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.

I think the success of John Wick and the franchise as a whole would be evidence enough that it was the right decision. Audiences are so invested that they're still asking for a fifth movie, which Keanu Reeves has shared some thoughts on. Essentially if a fifth movie happens, it seems likely it won't be set as close to the events of the first four movies.

The Key Reason I'm Still Excited For The Next John Wick Movies, Despite My Issues With The Continental

Katie McGrath in The Continental

(Image credit: Peacock)

The series had its faults.

As good a decision as it was, I can also see why many were telling David Leitch not to kill a dog in John Wick. I can't really say I have many movies on my list in which an animal dies a terrible death, and I'd much rather see a movie where a dog saves the day than passes away.

Perhaps there's a universe where John Wick was able to exact vengeance, audiences were satisfied, and the dog was alive and well at the end. Hey, I'm not against an alternate cut being tried out just to see how people respond to it, but I think at this stage, more people would complain than not. The dog death is what really makes this movie memorable and drives home just what lengths a pet owner will go to if you mess with their furry pals. You think I'm joking, but I'm not: never mess with someone's pets.

Those who want to stream John Wick right now are in luck, as it's free to watch at Tubi. I wholeheartedly recommend a rewatch for anyone who hasn't seen it in a while because even with the dog dying, it's still one of the best modern action films of our time.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.