This movie was a wonderful trip down the rabbit hole labeled "eternal youth". I let this movie take me on a wandering journey through "what-ifs" and "I wonders" and was thoroughly pleased with the experience. I fully acknowledge that there are historical inaccuracies, but for most of us 'common folk' the 'facts' given are what we know and are what we were taught. This movie is good because of the idea explored, and the portrayal of the people's reactions to it.
I don't think this is a movie about a 14.000 year old man. This is a movie about people's reactions to an absolutely unbelievable concept. This isn't a man on the street coming up to you and claiming that he is a 14.000 year old caveman. This is your best friend that you went k- 12 with suddenly saying that. His credibility lies in the fact that these people have known him for 10 years. They sit and talk to him and believe him because they have every reason to believe that he is serious. I know that if I was trying get a friend to explain why he was leaving and he finally, and reluctantly, told me this tale in perfect seriousness, I would at least listen to the whole thing. I don't find their reactions at all unbelievable.
One of the two big story complaints I have seen is the name dropping of historical figures like Hammurabi, Buddha, van Gogh, and other famous figures. Yes, it is absolutely absurd that one man would happen to run into these figures (though I want to point out that he only said that he lived under Hammurabi, not that he knew him) but ask yourself this, would it be interesting if he didn't? If his entire history was, I spent some time in Switzerland with Zarko the dairy farmer, studied with Chi Ling the rice cooker, and was happily fishing in Japan around the time of Jesus, would that be nearly as interesting? Maybe it could be quite interesting in a full on book to explain his watching of the rise and fall of empires from the view of other nations, but I don't see it making a good movie.
Since I just mentioned Jesus, let's talk about the other big complaint. There is definitely and atheistic slant to this film. I'm not going to deny that. Some find this to be quite offensive, but it isn't really saying that this is absolutely the truth of Jesus, not as I'm viewing it anyway. This was a purely hypothetical, "What if a man survived through all of human history? What if in his lifetime he tried to teach all of the philosophy he learned?" If the dominant faith in the U.S. was Islam, he would have been Mohammad. This didn't say to me, "This is what happened" but "This could have happened, in some fashion."
Finally, I want to add my two cents about the character John. I very much identify with this character in his gentle nature, and somewhat passive behaviour. This man is a born scholar and in his own words, "not adventurous." This isn't the man who romped through history, rocking it with Alexander the Great and Attila the Hun. This is a guy who would have been attracted to colleges, schools, and other low confrontation areas. I honestly would have had trouble with him being 14.000 years old if he were anybody but a passive introvert. Were he braver, bolder, or even just more emotional, I would be sure that he would have gotten someone seriously riled up and gotten shot or stabbed somewhere even he couldn't heal. The only time he did put himself out there, he very narrowly avoided death because he had learned some nifty (and narratively convenient) tricks.
In summary, I would say that this is an unconventional, but good movie with an intriguing idea and a gripping narrative. It is slow, it is a bit far-fetched, and definitely a bit cornball, but it is worth your time if you can just let go and flow with it. It is especially fun if you are the type to bullshit philosophy with your mates every chance you get.
Review by mtschladetzky from the Internet Movie Database.