In the new film John Wick, our protagonist’s dog is killed by thugs, which leads him on a epic tale of revenge that our own Chris Singh called Keanu Reeves’ “best role in years” (read the review here). Yes, it’s a film whose main plot line is driven by just how much this man loved his dog. And it’s not the only time this has happened in films. See if you can remember how much the plot of these films were driven by a man’s love for his dead or missing pup.
In Seven Psychopaths (2012) a gangster’s dog (Bonnie) is kidnapped by Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell, who kidnap dogs for a living, using the love of others and collecting the reward. With Bonnie though it backfires and leads the plot of this hilarious film.
Revenge (1989) sees Kevin Cosner’s dog killed by Anthony Quinn when he catches Costner in bed with his wife. A little harsh for the dog don’t you think? The killing foreshadows the revenge ridiculousness that follows…
It seems that John Wick may at least have been partially inspired by the 2008 film Red (not to be confused with the Bruce Willis film of the same name), which stars Brian Cox as man who goes on his own tale of retribution after teens kill his dog, after whom the film is named.
In the confusing and generally panned film (but now a cult classic in its own right) that was The Butterfly Effect, Evan’s dog is killed by a nutcase… and you know what they say about The Butterfly Effect? Did the death of a dog have a ripple effect that dictated the rest of the narrative? Think about it.
The 2000 film Screwed also deals with a kidnapped dog – though in this case the dog doesn’t meet its end, the kidnapping itself leads the narrative, “A chauffeur kidnaps his rich boss’s dog to hold it for ransom, but when she accidentally gets the dog back, she thinks that it’s the chauffeur who’s been kidnapped”… The film starred Norm MacDonald, Dave Chappelle and the late, great Elaine Stritch.
Poor Mad Max. Towards the end of the second installment of the franchise, The Road Warrior (1981), his only mate is killed by a crossbow. Did the death turn Mad Max into a more hardened man ahead of the third movie?
In the 2008 British thriller Eden Lake, Brett (Played by Skin‘s Jack O’Connell) is the leader of a gang who gets really pissed off when his dog is killed during a wee scuffle. Things get a bit… nasty… from this point, to say the least.
Though the dog doesn’t die in this case (though almost does several times), rewatch Snatch (2000) and you’ll realise that Brad Pitt’s dog – which isn’t so much “kidnapped” as it is “borrowed” is pretty much the main character of the film.
And finally, as a bonus we have to include this seminal film. Turner and Hooch is based around the murder of Hooch’s owner, and then Hooch goes on to get shot protecting Turner! Ah, such love. Much puppies. So murder. Wow.
John Wick is in cinemas now.