Brow Beat

The Dog in John Wick Really Did Climb That Wall

Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, and two dogs striding across a desert.
“We heard someone was underestimating dogs.” Lionsgate


John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is shooting its way into theaters near you this weekend, and dogs everywhere are going to be thrilled. After movies in which Keanu Reeves avenges one dog and ensures the safety of another, the dogs in the third John Wick movie finally get a piece of the action. Specifically, there’s a breathtaking shootout in which Reeves, Halle Berry, and Halle Berry’s dogs use human-dog teamwork to fight their way through a crowd of henchmen. That teamwork usually takes a specific form: The dogs go right for the genitals, then pin the henchman to the ground until Berry or Reeves can deliver a couple of headshots. But in one instance, a dog uses Halle Berry’s back as a springboard, then scrabbles up the wall to the second story and attacks a gunman on a balcony. And Rob Nederhorst, the film’s visual effects supervisor, would like you to know that the dog really did climb that wall:

Nederhorst was responding to this passage in David Edelstein’s review of the film at Vulture:

The ensuing motorcycle chase is pretty good, too, and a stable fight would be gangbusters if the kicking horse’s legs didn’t look like CGI. That CGI is an ongoing issue. A dog that scampers up a wall to tear its attacker’s jugular is cartoonish, and the settings have a simulacrum-like fakeness that would make you think of The Matrix even if Parabellum didn’t have the same leading man.

The film’s locations are one thing, and the horses in the stable something else again, but besmirching the reputation of hard-working stunt dogs is just unacceptable. They’re good dogs! They can climb up walls to attack gunmen if they believe in themselves! As proof, here is a dog climbing a four-meter wall, without the benefit of special effects or Halle Berry:

As further proof, here is dog trainer Omar von Muller’s protégé Jumpy, doing a parkour routine that includes jumps that should be impossible for a dog without the use of CGI:

And speaking of jumps that should be impossible for a dog without the assistance of CGI, here’s another one of von Muller’s dogs doing a 60-inch high jump like it was nothing:

Also, although it doesn’t have any direct bearing on the use of CGI versus physical stunts in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, it still seems important to point out that Muller has trained a dog to ride a skateboard standing upright:

In conclusion, dogs are amazing acrobatic clowns we definitely do not deserve. Also, if you have insulted or otherwise angered a dog, and your plan is to hide from that dog by hanging out on a second-story balcony, secure in the knowledge that he or she will be unable to reach you without the assistance of big budget Hollywood special effects, you are in for a surprise.