Wolverine should not be a 12A (or PG-13 for the Americans). This is one simple reason, his claws. He has razor sharp claws that extend out of his hand. There is no way to make a character with that being one of his most defining features super kid friendly unless you make some serious short cuts, which is pretty much was Jason Mangold did. Every stab and every slice never draws blood, we only get told he kills someone with them three or four times in the whole film. He stabs someone just off screen so many times it's ridiculous. There's just too many concessions here to make the film suitable for the children.
His claws are also a big bone of contention in the story for me. The Wolverine is a story that finds a way of inhibiting his much vaunted healing factor, something that many writers complain about and is quite a tried and tested trope with the little Canucklehead. And if I'm quite honest, it works pretty well here. Except for one reason. His claws.
He has huge razor sharp claws that slice his hand open every time he 'snikts'. It's usually not that big of a deal because his healing factor stops the bleeding straight away, but the very first X-Men film states that it hurts, and every film he's been in to date has usually shown them ripping straight through. Yet here, where Wolverine's healing factor is a problem, they don't even address it. That bugs me for two reasons.
One, how cool would it be the first time he pops his claws once his healing is on the fritz to see Logan flinch, glance down and blood trickling down them. After the shotgun blast it would really sell something is not right here. Two, in a film that is so desperate to make Wolverine kiddy friendly, it would give the film makers a reason for Wolverine to keep the claws sheathed unless he really needs them, adding a lot of weight to them, and a pretty dramatic scene when he does pop them at his lower state.
It would also have seen need for Wolverine to pick a Samurai sword, which is one of the most enduring images of the Claremont/Miller arc this is based on, and would have made the fight with Shingen that much more awesome, being it's meant to be all about honour, and Wolverine can't use his claws. Shingen's superior skill is only combated by Wolverine's healing factor and his general attitude of not backing down. Let's face it too, that fight should have been the final fight of the film instead of the sudden resurrection of the grandfather and a ridiculous giant robot fight that felt at odds to the rest of the film.
With the extra time, they could address Mariko's capture as that didn't really make a lot of sense. On the train she's convinced they won't find house, why? Logan's questioned every decision she'd made up to that point, and explained out how they were bad ideas. She comes up with this one and it's apparently fine. After a couple of days the Yakuza find it pretty damn easily, no tip off, neither of them do something to give them away. It needed something to sell it either way. Wolverine as a Gaijin being talked about, him doing something particularly Wolverine giving the game away, something to connect it to reality. Or is it that Logan, a warrior of hundreds of years of experience and instinct for this stuff, took this young woman's word they wouldn't find the house just cos?
Interestingly though, is Mariko's part in the final fight. As out of place as the Silver Samurai was, I really liked the fact it was Mariko that was responsible for his defeat, Logan just finished him off. It was ninety percent Mariko. Combined with the fact it was Yukio who took down Viper and I was amazed that Wolverine in the end was responsible for so little in that scene really. It was Iron Man 3 all over again, and that is awesome.
It's not as bad as Wolverine Origins or X3, though that isn't saying much. However, The Wolverine is missing something, and the obligatory 'comic book' fight at the end sticks out like a sore thumb in a film that is pretty grounded. If the fimmakers had ditched that and spent more time on developing the story, and not shied away from the blood quite so much, this could have been a much better film. As it is, it's just a nice set-up for the future arc of Days of Future Past.