13 – Tzameti uses its cheap black and white stock and short running time to stark effect. That its premise is near ridiculous, its characters uni-dimensional and the ending somewhat unlikely is to misunderstand what is so great about it. Basically it is a film with one great idea, and that is presented perfectly. The fact that almost everything around that idea makes little sense is probably more due to the convention of film running times and narrative and should be almost instantly disregarded.
For all of its claims of being a thriller (and it is thrilling) 13 -Tzameti is a sports film. To the point that if you use sports film logic, the victor of the game (and indeed who he will play in the final) is never in doubt. But the “sport” in question is Russian Roulette. Which is where the black and white cheapness yet again helps. The film would be unbearable in colour, even with the cutaways to spare us the flying brain shots. But in black and white, the half an hour, and various rounds where our accidental participant plays for his life are nailbiting and absolutely vital cinema.
It is impossible to follow this sequence (which does not really excuse the rubbish ending) but for thirty minutes you not only get to watch a fantastic sporting event you could never really see, but you also believe it and empathise with the criminals putting it on.