Avatar: The Way of the Water


by Sylvester Picard

Basically, Avatar 2 Couldn’t have had a clearer title than that. The Way of the Water : a title that sounds like a personal development bestseller advocating hydrotherapy as a remedy for eczema, or like an eco-terrorism manual putting the oceans at the heart of the battle for the future of the planet. No need, moreover, to pretend to discover the obsession of James Cameron for the blue waves. Between titanic and Avatar, he was going to explore the real carcass of the ocean liner; Between Avatar and Avatar 2, he became “the deepest man in the world” by touching the bottom of the Mariana Trench (ten kilometers deep, anyway). That’s what The Way of the Water stages. The search for a filmmaker of the summit and of perfection, of the ultimate performance – and then his dissolution in action so that only the cinema remains.

What is striking, deep down, is how much Avatar 2 places itself completely outside the model of Marvel blockbusters by refusing connections, cameos, meta winks, in short, everything storytelling pop of the 2010s which only wants to function in connivance and world-building – the construction of a universe capable of being deployed on all media. Avatar 2 in fact only unfolds in the cinema, at the time of its projection, in HFR and in 3D as the film relies on its support for immersion. But it’s not just a technical feat. Oh, she’s there, present in every shot, but the immersion is also that of the narration, and that’s where the film surprises by putting aside Jake and Neytiri, in favor of their children. The film begins as a western, then branches off into an aquatic odyssey, then into a true IMAX documentary on alien-whaling, before rushing it all into a fabulous last act that crosses all the stakes without ever getting lost.

Due to the time difference between theAvatar from 2009 and The Way of the Watertruly taken into account in the degetic chronology, the film is ultimately a true adolescent odyssey of postage, reminiscent of that of John Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. And since we’re at Cameron’s, the real hero is the new Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang), whose memory has been cloned into the body of a na’vi avatar, and who looks like a villain – but it’s more complicated than that, and at the same time simpler, and you just have to see it to understand it and believe it: everything is explained by action. If we go out ofAvatar 2 with cotton legs and a head full of maddening images (only one desire animated us when we left the projo: to tell the thousand and one insane adventures of the film like kids), it is that Cameron succeeded in resolving the paradox of figure of the author, who is sufficiently overpowered to feed the vision ofAvatar 2, and also to fade away completely – to dissolve into the fleet, to be everywhere without being seen, a filmmaker constantly tempted to put an end to cinema after each film. It could be this one.

The temptation is justly strong to see Avatar 2 like an ultimate film, in the form of a reactive plea: a dad, a mom, children, the family is a fortress… Cameron nevertheless plays skilfully with the symbolism of these terms, since Jake has become an ultra-directive dad who considers his kids like mini-soldiers in front of him to obey the finger and the eye. A father in the form of an asshole, like a conscious echo of the director to his role of “asshole dad” towards his own children, which he candidly confessed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, a role doomed to disappear in the face of the generation of after. Truly, Cameron has rarely staged himself so much in a film. And when he does, it’s the appearance of a liquid metal robot, it’s an iceberg that hits the Titanic, it’s the whole mainstream cinema that suffers an irreversible shock. The Way of the Waterindeed: crystal clear, crystal clear.

Avatar: The Way of the Water