Amidst celebrating the critical acclaim of her sophomore studio album Hold The Girl, pop sensation Rina Sawayama gears up to make her feature film debut. As announced by Deadline last year, the revered musical artist was cast alongside Keanu Reeves for the 2023 release of John Wick: Chapter 4. In more good news, the official trailer recently dropped and all we want is more shots of Sawayama as the sword-slinging assassin Akira.
The fourth chapter of the John Wick extended universe sees Reeves resume his star role, taking on the hellish trials of the former assassin Wick as he versus the infamous High Table. Continuously tempted in and out of retirement by his moral compass, hitman John Wick won’t be fighting alone this time around; the synopsis for the action thriller teases that Wick will be teaming up with “the most powerful players in the underworld, from New York To Paris to Japan to Berlin.”
The trailer gives little insight as to whether or not Sawayama’s character is a friend or foe of Wick’s, but it does show her kicking some serious ass. In one of the two tantalizingly short clips, Akira craftily disarms her attacker before landing one swift and final blow – floating like a butterfly then stinging like a bee. Sawayama’s ability to crush the choreography speaks to her impressive efforts both on set and off.
First look at Rina Sawayama’s fight scenes as Akira in John Wick 4 pic.twitter.com/8YDaN3peIw
— Rina Sawayama Updates (@RinaSawaUpdates) November 10, 2022
The pop star told Rolling Stone UK that a screen test with the film’s director was the first step for her to seal the deal. Following the call with Chad Stahelski, Sawayama said she didn’t need to wait long to hear back. “A couple of days later I was on a plane to start training for the fight scenes which is three months of intensive work.”
Fortunately, Sawayama reminds us that her dance moves are already a solid platform upon which her fighting skills could be built, “They wanted someone who could do choreography and Chad Stahelski had watched my music videos, specifically ‘XS’ and ‘Bad Friend’, one has dance, and the other has fighting.”
In regards to if Akira is with or against Wick, Sawayama did tell Variety about working with Keanu Reeves; at least we know with certainty that there will be scenes of them on-screen together, be it by teaming up or showing down.
According to Sawayama, “Keanu was amazing, and exactly what you think he’d be like, so chill. But he looked after me in loads of different ways, very much behind the scenes — not telling me that he was doing something for me, but making sure that it was done. Although him being one of the executive producers means that he had a hand in casting me, so that was really crazy to comprehend.”
If I were Keanu Reeves, I know I’d want Rina Sawayama on my side; and considering that he had a part in her casting process, maybe she is an integral member of Wick’s global team of assassins. We’ll just have to wait until March 24, 2023 to find out.
For the NME’s cover story, the singer-songwriter built anticipation for the film by divulging her own excitement, “I’m so excited for people to see it in the cinema, because it’s definitely, 100% the best John Wick that’s ever been, and I’m not being biased, like honestly, the scale is insane this time.” The main question of concern then becomes: can Sawayama rally the “gays and theys” to get behind John Wick as an action-thriller franchise that has long since pandered to the straight mainstream?