Wick and wickeder 

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Wicked Keanu Reeves is back with John Wick 3.
  • photo submitted
  • Wicked Keanu Reeves is back with John Wick 3.

Generally, the beginning and end of a story are the most exciting parts. That's one reason to be kinda stoked these days—we missed the start of the world but it's looking like we might catch the end.

But there's another big finish on the small screen this week and about 2.3 zillion fans will collectively tune in Sunday night for the series finale of Game of Thrones. After eight seasons winter is finally over (for the viewers at least) and while many have complained that season eight is too dark (to be fair, battling an army of the undead at night kinda has to be dark) and too rushed (this show once spent an entire episode deciding whether to cross a bridge, and suddenly we're blowing through subplots like cherry blossoms in a hurricane), the stoke levels are still off the charts.

Game of Thrones set a new high-water mark in this golden age of serialized drama, and now that the end is nigh you can bet there will be blood, death, evil, fire, a legendary hero(ine) and (hopefully but probably not) some-good-old-fashioned-season-one-style whoring.

So don't bother calling 75 per cent of your friends on Sunday night; they're busy. (And for those who have avoided Game of Thrones until now, don't let your desire to go against the grain ruin 73-plus hours of binge-worthy television. Betcha can't watch it in one sitting.)

Speaking of revenge, John Wick 3 opens Friday night at the Whistler Village 8. For the uninitiated, the John Wick franchise is about a super elite assassin who kills a bunch of people after they murder his dog. All that killing snowballs and eventually he has to kill a bunch more people in the sequel. And now, for the third instalment, he has to kill a shitload more people, many who used to be his peers, because he broke some secret assassin society rules killing all those other people in part two.

As far as narratives go, it's not rocket surgery but this franchise has already raked in almost $150 million, because it's just awesome and fun to watch.

And the reason for that is twofold: first, the John Wick flicks are directed by Chad Stahelski, a stunt performer/martial arts expert, and the way he creates fight sequences is almost unparalleled. With lots of wide shots, long takes, and highly precise, choreographed movements between the actors and camera, John Wick action sequences are immersive and ballet-like, essentially the opposite of the fast-cut, CGI-heavy superhero battles that have been dominating Hollywood of late. Secondly, Keanu Reeves is the action hero no one realized (despite The Matrix) and he's undertaken extensive tactical and fighting training to facilitate those long takes and realistic fight scenes. Unless he's getting hit by a car, that's really Keanu kicking ass.

Speaking of, the download of the week is Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men, a new four-part documentary on Showtime/Crave that tracks, in great detail, the career of one of the most influential hip-hop groups of all time. With total access to what seems like any and all existing archival footage and talking head interviews with all the surviving members of the clan, Of Mics and Men definitely goes deeper than most casual fans need.

For hardcore hip hoppers, however, there is gold to be mined here, including a straight-up heated discussion about who came up with the name and a bunch of insight into their still-groundbreaking record deal that allowed each individual member to sign with any label they chose (the RZA is a genius). Director Sacha Jenkins shot his interviews with pitch-black backgrounds to allow for really innovative editing and split screen techniques. Take notes, future documentarians.

The other download of the week is Fighting With My Family, a based-on-true underdog wrestling movie starring Florence Pugh (she's gonna be big, just wait) as "Paige," a come-from-nowhere, oddball sweetheart who powerslams her way to the WWE Divas championship belt.

Produced by The Rock (who delivers an awesome in-character cameo) and directed by Stephen Merchant (exec-producer on the British The Office), this one is a family comedy with enough heart to suck almost anyone in. (And for those of you jonesing for more Game of Thrones: bitch Queen Cersei actress Lena Headey (300, The Purge) stars as a hair-dyed, punk rock wrestling mom you can't help but love. It will be nice to see where Heady, after eight years as the foundational talent of Game of Thrones, goes next. Every ending is a new beginning...bring it on.


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