Every John Wick fan appreciates how dogs are central to the franchise’s narrative, so the excitement of seeing the third movie’s trailer with two dogs fighting the bad guys was palpable — even more so because the dog motif wasn’t stressed much in the sequel, so we missed it. Of course, Wick’s first dog was symbolic of the loss that Keanu Reeves’ antihero suffered, and although the puppy was a passive creature, he propelled his owner into action. With John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, director Chad Stahelski wanted the dogs to be (a believable) part of the action as well. That led to a different approach to training them, as he told Collider in a recent interview.
Well, no wonder the initial photo release of Berry’s character, Sofia, striding down a hallway with the two canines looked so menacing. Stahelski explained that he wanted the moments at the end of the trailer (when the dogs leaped toward assassins) to look as realistic as possible, not like a trainer was cuing them from the wings. That meant that Berry had to invest months with these animals before filming began to pull this off:
“We didn’t want a trainer hiding behind a set piece or a prop or something like that. We wanted Halle — or, [Sofia], our character — to be our on-screen dog trainer. So it wasn’t acting like these were her dogs, these actually were her dogs. When we cast Halle we had the big talk. Halle actually came, after all her fight rehearsals and gun rehearsals, she would go sit, and work, and play with the dogs for months on end so the dogs on-screen actually obey Halle. They’re not looking at a trainer. That was really fun.”
So … part of Halle’s job was to cap off her fight-and-gun training sessions by playing with dogs, and she did this for months? The struggle is real! Seriously though, the dog-leap-to-the-jugular was an intense moment, so Stahelski’s approach appears to have paid off. I can’t wait to see more of those German shepherds in action when the movie arrives on May 17, 2019.
On a related note, if you were wondering how dogs feel about the Parabellum trailer, look no further. Here’s an IGN-crafted video that’s actually called “Dogs React to the John Wick 3 Trailer.” Two paws up for 2019 so far.